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Diversification key to sustainability of coastal communities: Fisheries sub-Committee

An Oireachtas sub-Committee has this afternoon called for government policy to focus on the survival of rural coastal and island communities by promoting a diverse range of activities. The sub-Committee on Fisheries has outlined how aquaculture, inshore fishing, sea angling, marine tourism and seaweed activities can contribute to vibrant coastal and island areas.

14 January 2014

In adopting a holistic approach to the issue, the sub-Committee has outlined how proactive government support, with proportionate and sensible bureaucratic controls, can ensure such activities co-exist in these communities. It calls for the Government to urgently develop a management structure grounded in reliable data for inshore fisheries, for instance, exploring how ‘heritage licences’ might be issued to rural coastal and island communities to facilitate traditional fishing practices.  

The recommendations are included in a report launched in Inis Oírr today, which has outlined the need for a clear community dividend for any new major aquaculture and marine energy projects.

The Report on Sustainable Rural Coastal and Island Communities also calls for aquaculture projects for fin-fish to be licensed on the basis of adhering to the world’s highest environmental standards and for structures to be put in place to allow as much local ownership as possible in all such developments. Cautioning for Government and industry not to focus unduly on one or two species, the sub-Committee has advocated diversification to curb risks associated with such aquaculture projects.

Other recommendations include that:

  • The current fragmented governance of the maritime sector be rationalised, along the lines of Marine Scotland across the water;
  • Certified, practical courses for fishing communities be established by Bord Iascaigh Mhara, in conjunction with new training agency SOLAS;
  • Inland Fisheries Ireland work more closely with tourism agencies to ensure the integration of sea angling into tourism packages and marketing campaigns;
  • The Department of Transport explore the licensing of dual use fishing vessels both for commercial fishing and tourism angling and how their conversion might be grant-aided; and
  • The Departments of Marine and Environment resolve the regulatory licensing issues that pose an impediment to the development of the seaweed industry.

Sub-Committee Chairman Andrew Doyle TD says: “It is imperative that Ireland’s distinctive rural coastal areas and islands are developed in a sustainable manner into the future. As well as their rich influence on national culture and language, the communities have the potential to make a significant contribution to the wider economy in areas such as food, tourism and marine energy. This sub-Committee report makes a number of important recommendations to ensure Ireland’s seas and coasts are managed effectively for the benefit of the communities that depend on them most.”

“The report seeks to chart an optimum course to sustainably develop our marine resources, ensuring that long term economic and employment potential of the commercial aquaculture industry can be unleashed, while safeguarding Ireland’s enviable reputation for seafood production. The any development of aquaculture is predicated implementation of a sound regulatory system, which has the confidence of the public in general and also of the European Commission.

“The report highlights some concerns around the management of inshore fisheries, in relation to the vessels shorter than 10 meters which constitute the bulk of the fleet. The sub-Committee is acutely aware of how coastal and island communities are economically, socially, demographically and even culturally reliant on this type of fishing and are concerned at the lack of reliable data that underpins current policy in the area. In this context, the sub-Committee is calling on Government to more effectively plan for the future of the small-scale fishing industry by ensuring the existing data gaps be filled.”

Access report: Sustaining Coastal and Island Communities.

Media enquiries to:
Paul Hand,
Communications Unit,
Houses of the Oireachtas,
Leinster House,
Dublin 2
P: +3531 618 4484
M: +353 87 694 9926

Joint sub-Committee on Fisheries - Membership

Chairman: Andrew Doyle TD

Joint Committee on Agriculture, Food and the Marine
Andrew Doyle TD, Fine Gael
Martin Ferris TD, Sinn Féin
Michael McNamara TD, Labour
Thomas Pringle TD, Independent
Senator Brian Ó Domhnaill, Fianna Fáil

Joint Committee on Transport and Communications
Noel Harrington TD, Fine Gael
Sean Kenny TD, Labour

Joint Committee on Environment, Culture and the Gaeltacht
Senator Ned O’Sullivan, Fianna Fáil
Senator Denis Landy, Labour