Pleas have been made to designate priority space for fishermen at a pier in West Cork because they are finding it increasingly difficult to do their work due to an invasion of tourists.
Social Democrat councillor Ross O'Connell told the West Cork Municipal District Council that the plight of fishermen in Schull was only going to get worse when the weather improves in the summer and hordes of 'staycationers' descend on the pier.
He told council officials they need to erect adequate signage to show it's a working pier and no parking road markings to aid the fishermen operating out of Schull before another expected busy summer of tourism in West Cork.
Mr O'Connell said the influx of tourists onto a working pier severely impacts the work of the fishermen and safety.
“We all love to see people visiting the area. But Schull pier is being treated like a drive-thru promenade by tourists. It's a working pier. There is an amount of unnecessary traffic which creates a danger. The fishermen have informed me they are invaded by hoards of people," he said.
Mr O'Connell said there are seven inshore fishing boats left working out of Schull and everything possible had to be done by the council to protect their livelihoods.
“There's nowhere for them to park as the pier is choked with campervans and cars. Parking on the pier needs to be prioritised for the fishermen. The southside of the pier should be designated for them. Signage on the approach to the pier needs to be put in place to show it's a working pier,” Mr O'Connell added.
Independent councillor Danny Collins said the harbour master should visit there more often to ensure the fishermen are not impeded in their work.
“It's good to have tourism, but what's happening is very unfair on the fishermen," Fine Gael councillor Katie Murphy said.
MacDara O Hici, the senior council official for the district, said the facility had always been a multi-use pier.
“I have the greatest respect for the fishermen who are providing employment all year round. But there are others using the facility bringing economic plus to the area too and that has to be recognised, ” Mr O Hici said.
Mr O'Connell showed council officials a picture of faded double yellow lines on the pier restricting parking, which were barely visible. This had prompted fishermen to put up their own signs on cardboard pointing out that parking wasn't allowed in certain sections of the pier.
He urged Mr O Hici to ensure the double yellow lines were painted again and that a section of the pier be reserved solely for parking for fishermen.
Mr Ohici said the harbour master had a huge area to cover in West Cork, but they would look at if there was anything he could do to help ease the problems being experienced by the fishermen.