Coun­cil to ad­vo­cate for fish­eries and marine min­istry

Irish Examiner - County - - News - Sean O’Rior­dan

Cork County Coun­cil is to write to the Gov­ern­ment, urg­ing it to cre­ate a sep­a­rate min­istry for fish­eries and the marine, pri­mar­ily be­cause it is claimed that West Cork­based fish­er­men and marine tourism in­ter­ests are not be­ing prop­erly rep­re­sented.

Cllr Danny Collins won unan­i­mous sup­port from col­leagues for the move when he stated that the Depart­ment of Agri­cul­ture, Food and Marine is too big a port­fo­lio: “Over the past num­ber of years and un­der suc­ces­sive gov­ern­ments it’s ob­vi­ous to fish­er­men and to the wider pub­lic that fish­er­men have be­come the poor re­la­tions in Ir­ish pol­i­tics. I hope this coun­cil will send a clear mes­sage that fish­ing and the marine need a stand­alone min­istry in the Ir­ish Gov­ern­ment.”

With Brexit ne­go­ti­a­tions on­go­ing, or­gan­i­sa­tions such as the Ir­ish South and West Fish Pro­duc­ers’ Or­gan­i­sa­tion have been em­pha­sis­ing the im­por­tance of the fish­ing in­dus­try.

“Oth­ers have high­lighted that for­eign ves­sels who are in UK waters at present will have to exit those waters and it’s widely be­lieved there is only one place they are go­ing and this is into Ir­ish seas which are flooded with for­eign ves­sels al­ready. We are all fully aware of the Span­ish lor­ries com­ing to Castle­town­bere daily, tak­ing thou­sands of tons of fish from Ir­ish seas from for­eign ves­sels back to their coun­try.

“We can now see also how this Ir­ish Gov­ern­ment have taken their eye off the ball in re­la­tion to fish­er­men’s is­sues,” Mr Collins said.

Mr Collins pointed out that most Euro­pean coun­tries got quo­tas for blue fin tuna. Span­ish got a quota of 5,559 tonnes, whereas Ire­land got zero: “Whether it’s fish­er­men out in trawlers or the lo­cal in­shore fish­er­men, they all know they are no longer a pri­or­ity with this Gov­ern­ment. We need to send a strong mes­sage to Gov­ern­ment and right across Europe that we see the im­por­tance of the fish­ing in­dus­try to this coun­try. I also be­lieve that this min­is­te­rial post would work harder with town and vil­lage com­mit­tees along our coast­line in help­ing them ex­pand on the marine leisure side of things,” he added. He men­tioned Schull Com­mu­nity Har­bour De­vel­op­ment Com­pany, which has worked tire­lessly to­wards the de­vel­op­ment of a new Schull har­bour ma­rina: “They have ex­pended many thou­sands of hours, and al­most €500,000 of lo­cal­lyraised money has been spent to date on fea­si­bil­ity stud­ies to get this project started.

“If this project got the goa­head it would mas­sively in­crease tourism in the West Cork and Mizen ar­eas.”

Mean­while, Cork County Coun­cil has been called on to ap­point a ded­i­cated marine tourism of­fi­cer. Clon­akiltyThe based Cllr C h r i s t o p h e r O’Sul­li­van says it is vi­tal if Cork is to re­main com­pet­i­tive in na­tional and in­ter­na­tional tourism. “We have the long­est coast line in Ire­land. We have numer­ous award-win­ning beaches; we have the piers and the har­bours, and we have the is­lands. All we need now is a ded­i­cated of­fi­cer to pro­mote and mar­ket that,” he said. “We have the best whale-watch­ing any­where in Europe, we are a strong­hold for sail­ing and have many suit­able in­lets for sea kayak­ing. Un­for­tu­nately, how­ever, the rest of the world still has no idea we ex­ist.”

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