Ice-making plant stays shut despite industry pleas

Despite calls by the fishing industry for its re-opening, a BIM ice-making plant at a leading port looks set to remain closed.

Dingle in Co Kerry has been losing out on business from Spanish and other visiting trawlers since the facility closed last September, when the contracts for two workers could not be renewed because of the public-sector employment embargo.

A BIM spokeswoman yesterday said the agency had not been approached by any private operators with a view to taking over the plant.

“In the absence of staff, or an interested industry operator, the Dingle ice plant will remain closed,” she said.

After the plant’s closure, the BIM board met with local fishing interests and offered them the option of leasing the plant on an interim basis.

The industry, however, was unable to avail of that option and BIM then offered the facility for sale.

Dingle-based Cllr Seamus Cosai Fitzgerald yesterday said national and overseas trawlers were choosing not to land their catches in Dingle because of the lack of an ice plant.

“There’s a serious loss of income to Dingle as a result,” he said.

He urged the Department of Agriculture, Food, and the Marine to take over the running of the plant, suggesting that department staff were available in Dingle to cover its operation.

Since the closure, some Dingle-based skippers have installed on-board ice machines or have been supplied with ice by a local fish processing factory.

The ice plant has been in operation since 2001. According to BIM, ice sales peaked at 1,980 tonnes in 2003 — well below the plant’s 40 tonnes daily capacity. However, sales have fallen steadily since then.

There has been a massive decline in fishing in Dingle over the past 20 years. In 1992, Dingle had a total of85 vessels; it now has a total of 24, including five trawlers.


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