Letter to Commercial Fishermans Representative
Commercial Fishing in Greystones
In order to find a resolution to this issue I wrote to you offering to host a meeting between the Harbour Master Marina Operator (HMMO), his formal title, and the 2 licensed commercial fishermen in order to try to resolve outstanding matters. I feel that direct discussion to resolve the issue is better than the legal route.
Over 1,000 people are using the new harbour in boats, at least 9 people have jobs dependent on those boats, and all, except the 2 licensed commercial fishermen, appear to follow the bye laws and follow instructions from the HMMO.
I get the impression from your reply that you do not want to meet the HMMO.
I support the right of those who were commercial fishing in Greystones old harbour, when it closed for rebuilding, to continue. However the small scale of the new harbour means there is no space for expansion. It is also essential for the relevant authority, the HMMO, to exercise control over what happens in the harbour.
I remain concerned about the large biodiversity loss with fish depletion due to overfishing. The sea off Greystones had large quantities of fish and it was a major angling centre. The European Surf casting Championships being held in Greystones in 1989. This has gone now and is probably the largest biodiversity loss in Wicklow. Pre 1975 16 species of specimen weight fish could be caught by rod, now only 4 species are still present. There are also concerns about the sustainability of the Whelk fishery and paste in research which was sent to me at the end of this e mail. Given this biodiversity loss I don’t think the Council should be expanding it.
You enquired about the legal position, which is as follows:
The Greystones Harbour and Marina Bye-Laws 2014 note the following under Part 1
C). “The Company” is the Concession Company appointed by Wicklow County Council. Reference to “The Company” in these bye-laws shall be deemed to include such agents as may be appointed to carry out duties under the auspices of the bye-laws.
D). “The Harbour Master, Marina Operator (HMMO)” the person appointed by the Company as Harbour Master, including members of the staff of the Company to whom the Harbour Master and Marina Manager delegates any of his functions under statute or under these Bye-Laws.
E) “Authorised Officer” a person authorised in writing by Wicklow County Council to act on behalf of the Local Authority pursuant to Section 204(1) of the Local Government Act, in respect of Greystones Harbour and Marina.
BJ Marinas Limited as part of a Services Agreement with Sispar Limited, which is provided for in the Concession Agreement, are the Harbour Master Marina Operator. They are responsible for implementing the Bye-laws and the:
Maritime Safety Act, 2005
Harbours Act 1996
Roads Traffic Act 1961
Local Government (Water Pollution) Act, 1977 & 1990,
European Communities (Port Reception Facilities For Ship-Generated Waste and Cargo Residues) Regulations 2003
Control of Dogs (Restriction of Certain Dogs) Regulations, 1991.
Whelk Fishery. The main catch off Greystones is whelk and a small amount of lobster, caught in pots. Listed in OSPAR as a threatened species the minimum caught size is 45mm. Under size whelk must be immediately returned to the sea alive to conserve stock. This is not checked on landing. It is reputed that whelk size has been reducing.
In some other parts of the Irish Sea, following stock decline &catch decline per boat, the minimum size has been increased to 75mm, whelk licences introduced, a limit per boat & catch checking implemented with fines of £25,000 applied. The Blue Marine Foundation reports that stocks are at risk of localised collapse and extinction and that catches be managed and recorded. A study by fisheries consulting firm MRAG said the molluscs are being caught before they have had the opportunity to reproduce even once.
The current EU-wide minimum size a whelk must be before it is landed is 45mm but in these waters they mature when they’ve grown to between 45mm and 78mm depending on where they are. There is very little mixing between regional populations of whelks, putting them at risk of localised overfishing and collapse, the study warns.
Whelk is not eaten in Ireland and generally is trucked to France and flown to South East Asia where it is a prized delicacy.
Irelands Fishing industry today. Ocean Focus Winter 2020. 4 species left bass, tope, smooth hound, Mullet. Absent now, rays, codling, plaice, black sole.
Sea-Fisheries Protection Authority. Compliance within Whelk fishery May 2014.
Irish Fisheries Investigations 1995.
Blue Marine Foundation Report. Common Whelk 2018.