Taoiseach Micheál Martin has said the government is reviewing the situation on designated landing ports but it's down to resources and costs

Taoiseach Micheál Martin has said the government is reviewing the situation on designated landing ports but it’s down to resources and costs

Irish Government leader Micheál Martin, has told the Dáil the Government is reviewing the situation on designated landing ports in light of the current situation on the north coast of Ireland but there may not be the resources or funding available to open more than the current two ports that are already designated.

Fishermen in Donegal that have Northern Ireland and UK registered fishing vessels have been put on notice that they are no longer permitted to land in any fishing port outside of Killybegs and Castletownbere, and landing in these ports are subject to certain criteria that has to be fulfilled before they can berth and load.

The majority of the affected fishing vessels in Donegal are small boats and it would be extremely dangerous, difficult and non-cost effective for them to travel around the Donegal coast from harbours like Greencastle, Magheroarty, Bunbeg and Burtonport to offload in Killybegs.

“A number of island fishermen are facing an urgent and serious issue since the new year when they were informed that they can no longer land catches in their usual ports,” says Jerry Early of the Irish Islands Marine Resource Organisation.

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“There are only two ports designated in the whole country and boats face trips of a day or more to land; this is extremely dangerous for small boats and is completely unnecessary.

“There is a simple solution where the Government can designate additional ports under the EU regulation by January 15 and also exempt certain categories of third country boats from the usual notice period. This will avoid a situation where a part of Ireland is classified as a third country resulting in lives being put at risk simply for the sake of a paper exercise.”

Speaking in the Dáil yesterday, Sinn Féin’s Donegal Deputy Padraig Mac Lochlainn and Fisheries Spokesperson described it as an appalling situation:

“The SFPA are literally at harbours preventing Irish fishermen from landing into their harbours. But worse than that they are going to co-ops and producers and getting rid of their lobster and crabs.

“It’s an appalling situation and Taoiseach, you have it in your power, this Friday to designate more piers and harbours across the State and to reinstate their rights and their rights that apply to this island.”

In response the Taoiseach Micheál Martin said that a review was taking place as it relates to additional resources and costings in the event of manning additional designated ports:

“The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine has requested the Sea-Fisheries Protection Authority to review the issue in terms of additional resourcing and costs required in the event of further designations and is working on the issue.

“I think there are practical issues involved here in terms of the designation of further ports.”