FISHERMEN and tourism operators along the Kerry coast have claimed new harbour regulations would hinder their activities and endanger their livelihoods.
Kerry County Council is responsible for 57 piers/ harbours and proposed new bylaws will give the authority much greater powers of regulation over 16 of these.
Senior council officials worked for several months on draft bylaws, but yesterday’s monthly meeting, in Tralee decided the process be restarted for more consultation with the fishing industry and other interests.
Up to 20 fishermen were in the public gallery when a report on submissions relating to the bylaws by the council’s director of transport services, Charlie O’Sullivan, came before the meeting.
Only two submissions had been received and there were fears people could be prevented from swimming and engaging in leisure activities in some harbours, the meeting was told.
Cllr Matt Griffin (FG) proposed the matter be deferred to enable further consultations to take place with harbour users and others directly affected.
“These people are concerned about loss of jobs, additional costs for the fishing industry and the hindering of future recreational and tourism developments in all harbours,” he said.
He felt the bylaws should be less bureaucratic and there should be an agreed code of practice for harbour users.
Cllr Seamus Cosai Fitzgerald (FG) called for more time to make submissions, adding: “There’s no point in progressing with bylaws unless there’s co-operation from harbour users and fishermen.’
Cllr Paul O’Donoghue (FF) said fishermen were most reasonable on the issue and accepted the need for regulation. But, “draconian charges” in the bylaws were of serious concern.
Mr Charlie O’Sullivan agreed with a suggestion from Cllr Toiréasa Ferris (SF) that the consultation process be started again.
Ms Ferris said the charges would have huge implications for fishermen, some of whom might currently be earning only between €40 and €50 for a 14-hour day.
Mr O’Sullivan said there had been complaints over a long period from fishing organisations about activities in piers and harbours, but the council had been unable to address those due to lack of regulation.
County manager Tom Curran warned of a dangerous precedent being set by restarting the submissions process, saying the matter had been advertised and there had been consultation.
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