Harbour constables are to be appointed by Cork County Council to oversee new bylaws which will limit areas for jet ski use, ship speeds in bays, and they may also liaise with gardaí on suspected drug importation.
Draft bylaws are being drawn up by the local authority’s coastal management committee.
Its chairman, Cllr Michael Hegarty (FG), said the committee’s officials are mapping 200-plus harbours and piers in the county and County Hall’s HR department will shortly carry out recruitment of what he termed “harbour masters or harbour constables”.
It is expected that each full-time recruit will be aided by some part-time personnel as well.
Mr Hegarty revealed that they were working on drafting a number of bylaws which will be wide-ranging, covering safety and the collection of charges for berthing boats and yachts.
He said that, at present, there are a number of harbours without regulations and the council is not collecting revenue from mooring charges as a result.
“We have to have supervision of our coastline,” said Cllr Joe Carroll (FF).
Cllr Mary Linehan Foley (Ind) said: “It’s a free for all for some people. There are moorings out there that we’re getting no revenue from and nobody is policing jets skis, which can be very dangerous.”
Cllr Gillian Coughlan (FF) said many coastal communities feel very exposed to Illegal activity, such as drug-running.
“Harbour masters should record suspicious comings and goings and provide details to gardaí,” she said.
Mr Hegarty said he would take her suggestion onboard. He said it was hoped the bylaws will be completed in time for a meeting of the coastal management committee on January 8. If approved, they will go out to public consultation for a period of two months.
Some public submissions may be added to the bylaws before they are finally adopted.
“I’m sure there will be some interesting comments coming in from coastal communities,” said Mr Hegarty.
“Jet skis are certainly more common these days and they can be dangerous. Therefore, we intend to provide bylaws which will ensure they keep a certain distance offshore so they don’t hit any swimmers. We are also going to designate swimming areas,” he said.
The proposed new harbour masters/constables will enforce any regulations and could issue fines to those who use jet skis in non-designated areas, although no levy has yet been determined.
They will also have to police the speeds of boats entering and leaving harbours. Excessive speed can also be dangerous and it is likely breaches will lead to a monetary penalty.
“We will also have to ensure fees are collected from berthing bays,” said Mr Hegarty.
Penalties imposed would be used to maintain and improve marine leisure facilities along the coastline.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved