Foreign fishing vessels docking in Castletownbere are not using the dedicated landing areas set-up to deal with concerns over the COVID19 outbreak, claims a local source.
Dedicated landing areas were set-up by the Department for the Marine after protests in Dingle and Castletownbere itself over concerns about foreign crews working in the same areas as local fishermen on the piers.
Whilst most foreign vessels are using the dedicated landing areas over the past two days, two foreign boats have been photographed outside the zones and allegedly working unsupervised by the Harbour Authority.
The Fishing Daily has written to the Castletownbere Harbour Master offering the Authority the chance to explain what is happening in the fishing harbour and what procedures they have in place to ensure that foreign fishing vessels and their crews are following COVID-19 protocols.
We have yet to receive a reply from the Harbour Master.
Yesterday a foreign registered fishing vessel was photographed using an non-designated area and today’s photos show another French registered vessel carrying on loading fish boxes in what the diagram shows is a not an area set aside for foreign vessels to work in.
Last week it was revealed that the skipper of a French-flagged Spanish-owned fishing vessel, along with eight of his fourteen men crew were found to have had tested positive for COVID-19 after returning from a fishing trip. The ‘Notre Dame Cedeira’ had landed in Castletownbere on 21 April and it was on his return to sea that the skipper reported that he was feeling unwell. When he described his symptoms to the boat’s owner he was immediately ordered back to Celeiro in Spain.
The skipper and all the crew, along with the vessel owner are now all in quarantine in Spain.
It was also reported that over the weekend, foreign crews entered the town of Castletownbere to go shopping. Events such as this have created anxiety in fishing communities along the south-west coast and the fear of COVID-19 coming in the country via a ‘backdoor’ is a massive concern that is causing distress amongst locals in an already stressful situation.