€21m pier extension work in Castletownbere to start next year

Work on a €21m extension to double pier space at a booming Irish fishing port should start next year, the Agriculture and Fisheries Minister said yesterday.

An artist's impression of the proposed €21m harbour development in Castletownbere Co Cork.

Michael Creed told fishermen in West Cork the appropriate consents and tendering for the works to facilitate the project in Castletownbere will start early in 2017.

Subject to the consents being in place, he said it is hoped that work will start in July 2017, with a targeted completion date of mid-2019.

The investment will almost double the length of pier space on Dinish Island to more than 400m; as well as providing an administration building, to house harbour management and the Sea Fisheries Protection Authority. “The project is a direct response to the increase in fish landings into Castletownbere since the last major development became operational in 2010.

“When completed, the new facilities 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,” he said.

The pier at Dinish Island in Castletownbere. Picture: John Eagle

The village is Ireland’s largest white fish port, and last year accounted for wild fish landings of 45,762 tonnes worth almost €113m, and a significant level of aquaculture landings, with some 3,027 tonnes of farmed salmon landed there. Irish vessels landed almost 15,500 tonnes of fish compared to 11,290 tonnes in 2010, while other EU vessels landed 30,326 tonnes last year against 7,740 in 2010.

The value and volume of fish being landed in Castletownbere, has surged beyond expectations since 2010. The volume of fish landed has increased by 140%, while the value of fish landed has risen 277%.

The total tonnage of fish landed into Castletownbere by the Irish fleet and fleets from other EU countries has increased from 19,030 tonnes in 2010 to 45,762 tonnes in 2015. Since 2010, the number of landings from other EU fleets alone has increased by 242% from 409 to 1,400.

Mr Creed said he is committed to progressing the €21m expansion given the level of increased activity.

Sarah David fishing boat from Skibbereen. Picture: Gerard McCarthy

Niall Duffy, editor of the fishing industry newspaper, The Skipper, welcomed the investment: “However, without guaranteed access to fish stocks and improved quotas in the long term, it could be a facility that benefits foreign fleets rather than Irish fisherman. There is no point in having some of the best facilities in Europe if they don’t benefit the Irish fleet.”

Mr Creed accepted that the Fisheries Council talks in Brussels next month to set 2017 quotas will be challenging, with significant cuts proposed in quotas, including a 68% cut in cod, 20% cut in monk and in megrim, and a 9% cut in prawns.

He said he is committed to working closely with the industry and will take account of the scientific advice to work to deliver a balanced package of quotas. However, he said investment in Castletownbere, and the increased landings by other EU fleets, creates opportunities for the processing and supply industries.

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