Minister Michael Creed, during a visit to Castletownbere in Cork this Friday outlined his plans for a multi-phased Harbour Integration Development Project for Castletownbere Fishery Harbour Centre.
The new project will almost double the length of pier space on Dinish Island to over 400 metres, in addition to providing a fit for purpose Harbour Administration Building and associated works on the mainland.
The Minister explained that the project he is proposing now is ‘a direct response to the increase in fish landings into Castletownbere since the last major development became operational in 2010’.
“We have seen a level of increased fishing activity that far exceeded any expectations with a 140% increase in the volume of fish landed and a 277% in the value of fish landed since between 2010 and 2015,” explained Creed.
During his visit, Minister Creed also held detailed discussions with the fishing industry to hear directly from them their priorities for the December Fisheries Council, where the quotas will be set for 2017. The discussion was wide ranging and covered many of the issues of importance to Castletownbere.
The Minister said “I visited Castletownbere today to hear at first hand the concerns of the industry and to understand their quota priorities for 2017 in advance of the December Fisheries Council”.
“There are a number of significant cuts proposed in quotas of serious concern to the south west region, including a 68% cut in cod; 20% cut in monk and in megrim and a 9% cut in prawns. I committed to working closely with industry and, taking account of the scientific advice, to work to deliver a balanced package of quotas for 2017.”
In terms of the harbour development, the total tonnage of fish landed into Castletownbere has increased from 19,030 tonnes in 2010 to 45,762 tonnes in 2015. This reflects increases in landings from both the Irish fleet and fleets from other EU countries.
Of particular note is the increase in the number of landings from vessels from other EU fleets which has increased by 242% since 2010 from 409 to 1,400.
These increased landings by other EU fleets create economic opportunities for the processing and supply industries to take advantage of and will over time build a larger and stronger marine economy in the Castletownbere area.
The Minister went on to say that “Taking account of the level of increased activity in Castletownbere and the unprecedented success in increasing not only the foreign landings but also landings from our own fleet, I am committing to progress an €21 Integrated Harbour Development Project to cement and build on the success to date and bring the facilities here in Castletownbere to a standard as befits Ireland’s premier white fish port.”
The next stage of the project will involve seeking the appropriate consents, tendering the works with the aim, subject to the consents being in place, of commencing the works in the second half of 2017. It is expected that all elements of the project will be completed by the middle of 2019.
The Minister concluded by saying “When completed the new facilities for the fishing industry and the wider seafood sector will be on a par with the best in Europe and will not only allow for a major expansion of the seafood ,and other marine industries in the South West but will also provide opportunities and further economic diversification”.
During his visit to Castletownbere the Minister also visited the BIM National Fisheries College and the new SFPA Port Offices.
Current Landing Activity in Castletownbere Fishery Harbour Centre:
Castletownbere is Ireland’s largest white fish port accounting for wild fish landings of 45,762 tonnes with a value of €112.7m in 2015. There is also a significant level of aquaculture landings with 3,027 tonnes of farmed salmon being landed into the Harbour in 2015.
15,436 tonnes of fish was landed by Irish vessels in 2015 compared to 11,290 tonnes in 2010; other EU vessels landed 30,326 tonnes in 2015 compared to 7,740 in 2010.