Holly Cairns, Social Democrat spokesperson on Agriculture, Food, and the Marine, raised the issue of supporting small fishing communities in the Dáil. Speaking on the government’s Annual Statement on Climate Action and Low Carbon Development, Holly highlighted the importance of small piers and marine infrastructure to sustainable fishing.
“Last week was World Oceans Day, an opportunity to celebrate the role oceans play in our lives and to recognise the damage global-economic-systems are doing to them. As a coastal constituency, in West Cork we know the sea is an amazing natural resource that supports our tourism and fishing sectors. It is essential that we ensure the sea is respected. Unfortunately, we need only look at all the litter and pollution on our beaches and overfishing by super trawlers, to realise this isn’t the case.
“We need to support sustainable, small scale fishing. To do that we need to immediately address the lack of basic infrastructure for them. Too many small piers dotted around our coastline and islands are falling into disrepair and lack basic amenities like slipways. For example, Dunmanus, Ahakista, and Turk Head piers are all essential for those communities. These and other piers urgently need investment to preserve the livelihoods of local families and the practice of truly sustainable fishing. The kind of fishing that has existed in rural and coastal Ireland for generations; that is more environmentally friendly; and that will keep families living on islands and other coastal areas.
“Funding for these piers comes in limited forms from the Department of Agriculture, Food, and the Marine, and the Department of Housing, Planning, and Local Government to local authorities. Having been a member of the Coastal management committee on Cork County Council, I can tell you how apparent under investment in small piers was. At the very first meeting I had to point out that everyone fighting for the same miniscule amount of funding was counterproductive and that we should instead make the focus “how can we get more much-needed funding for piers?” I have called for small piers to be made a priority and receive needed funding streams for marine infrastructure to support sustainable fishing and coastal and island communities.”
16rh June 2020