17th March

Policy rethink required to safeguard rural coastal and island communities

The Joint-Sub-Committee on Fisheries has called for a change in government policy that will support a diverse range of activities to protect rural coastal and island communities. 

In a detailed report launched on Inis Oírr earlier this month, the sub-Committee outlines how 'proactive government support with proportionate and sensible bureautic controls' could ensure that aquaculture, inshore fishing, sea angling, marine tourism and seaweed initiatives could co-exist in these communities.

The majority of boats in the Irish fishing fleet are under 10 metres. Photo Gillian Mills

The majority of boats in the Irish fishing fleet are under 10 metres. Photo Gillian Mills

It advocates an holistic approach to a management structure grounded in 'reliable data' e.g. that might explore how 'heritage licences' could facilitate traditional fishing practices.

 The Report on Sustainable Rural Coastal and Island Communities also recommends that fin-fish projects should be licensed on the basis of adhering to the highest environmental standards and the establishment of structures to allow maximum local onwership in all developments.

Other recommendations include:

  • rationalisation of current fragmented governance of the maritime sector (e.g. Marine Scotland)
  • BIM 'certified, practical courses' in conjunction with SOLAS training agency
  • Inland Fisheries Ireland to work closer with tourism agencies to ensure integration of sea angling into tourism packages and marketing campaigns
  • Department of Transport to explore licensing of dual-use fishing vessels (commercial and tourism angling) with possible grant-aid
  • Departments of Marine and Environment to resolve regulatory licensing issues currently impeding development of the seaweed industry

"It is imperative that Ireland's distinctive rural coastal areas and islands are developed in a sustainable manner," remarked chairman Andrew Doyle. 

"As well as their ricih influence on national culture and language, the communities have the potential to make a significant contribution to the wider economy (food, tourism, marine energy). 

He added that the report seeks to chart an "optimum course" to sustainably develop our marine resources, and to ensure that long-term economic and employment potential of the aquaculture industry "can be unleashed, while safeguarding Ireland's enviable reputation for seafood production".

The chairman also pointed to the lack of "reliable data" on vessels under 10 metres which constitute the bulk of the fleet:

"Coastal and island communities are economically, socially demographically and even culturally reliant on this type of fishing. Government must effectively plan for the future of the small-scale fishing industry by ensuring the existing data gaps are filled."

Download the full report at:






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