Council to advocate for fisheries and marine ministry
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.”