One of Kristel Patrick’s trawl nets with the bag and cod end vandalised at Rossaveal
Skipper Paddy Mulvany of the Kristel Patrick S.551 got a shock last Sunday morning when he went to retrieve two trawl nets from the compound at Rossaveal Harbour in Co Galway.
On one of his nets he found the floats had been cut and the other net had the bag and cod end removed. None of the items were found in the harbour area and have been presumed stolen by thieves.
Just like other fishing vessels in the port, Paddy has traditionally stored the trawl nets in the compound but over the past few years, what was a secure area for fishermen has now become an open area for storing stone and gravel. This has forced boats to store gear in the open without the security of CCTV or locked gates. Initially, when work started in the harbour, fishermen were told that it was a temporary arrangement but as time has passed it has become more unlikely that the facility will be used again for the purpose it was set-up for.
This had led to great concerns for fishermen who are not members of the local Co-op but use the harbour. Some boat owners have found storage locally, but others haven’t been able to find any lock-ups locally which has led to Paddy calling on the Department of the Marine to consider building lock-ups in Rossaveal harbour.
“Boats using Rossaveal must have private storage for their gear because the old storage compound currently has 2000 tonnes of stone in it. This area was supposed to be cleaned up for boats to store gear, so we agreed and moved our gear out of it and now our gear is unsafe, and left to interference by anyone,” says Paddy.
One of the reasons Paddy has his boat in Rossaveal is due to Fisheries regulations which means he cannot use his own homeport. He says, “It’s a worry for me going forward. I’ve no storage in Rossaveal and I’m unable to use Achill because of the 750kg of ANF landing rule.”
Fishing vessels that are unable to use their own home ports due to regulations which exclude them rely on the facilities of harbours they are using, such as the compound at Rossaveal.
“This was the storage area for years and years. Then they promised a clean-up, so everyone cooperated with the Harbour Master to rid the place of disused gear through a recycling programme through BIM. They then put in this stone two-years plus ago and now they have no plans of spreading it. It looks like they are hoping to end the usage of this area by fishermen.”
Paddy says that this is not an issue facing himself alone at Rossaveal.
“There are many as affected as me. The number of boats in the Galway and Aran Co-op have reduced over the last few years with the sale of so many and this freed up space in the former auction hall on the west pier where their members were given a place to store their gear but I’m not a member of the Coop and I, like others rely on the facilities provided by the Department of the Marine. Since Monday, I have been in contact with the Department of the Marine, but it is hard to find a solution.”