Protesters at last night’s blockade in Dingle. Photo courtesy of Michael Hennesy

The organiser of last night’s blockade has warned the Minister for the Marine that “Dingle is closed down at the moment.”

The message came loud and clear when Michael Hennessy spoke to Kerry Radio today and he said that further protests at the harbour could materialise if foreign vessels continued to land there.

The blockade started last night when a Spanish  fishing vessel was due to land and in the harbour at Dingle in the early hours of this morning, Monday. When the Spanish agents found out they could be prevented from landing in Dingle the vessel rerouted to Castletownbere in Co Cork where it unloaded today.

Michael Hennessy said “We don’t want them coming into Dingle at the moment. Dingle is closed down… there is an awful effort being put in by the people of the community to stop the spread of COVID-19.

“I don’t understand why the Minister comes along and tries to land them here.

This is the second blockade to affect the harbour. The first blockade was widely condemned by all the Irish Fish Producer Organisations apart from the Irish South and West Fish Producer Organisations.

The Minister for the Marine has subsequently put in place regulations for separate landing berths for foreign fishing vessels in harbours like Dingle and Castletownbere but many in these communities fear that ‘lockdown’ and ‘social-distancing’ protocols are not being followed by the crews from these boats when they are docked in harbour here.

The Sea-Fisheries Protection Authority (SFPA) has come in for criticism from some locals in Castletownbere who say that they are not providing officers to the foreign vessels to check landings or to keep crew members in check.

In a email to The Fishing Daily, the SFPA have confirmed that they have officers present but it is not the duty of the SFPA to police the actions of crews from the foreign vessels and this instead lies with the harbour master.

“ I can confirm that all our port offices are operating through the current COVID-19 crisis and services in relation to the monitoring and verification of regulatory compliance are continuing. The SFPA is not required to be present at all landings but rather undertakes inspections on a risk based analysis.

“Matters relating to public health, public order and the Harbour Master are not within the SFPA’s remit.”

Minister for the Marine warned “Dingle is closed at the moment”

by editor time to read: 6 min