Fishermen stage protest over lack of facilities at Greystones

Protesters accuse harbour developer of failing to deliver on promise of quayside access

Lobster trays being off-loaded from the fishing boat Golden Venture at Greystones Harbour today. Photograph: Peter Murtagh/The Irish Times

Lobster trays being off-loaded from the fishing boat Golden Venture at Greystones Harbour today. Photograph: Peter Murtagh/The Irish Times

Fri, Aug 1, 2014, 16:54

Fishermen and their families staged a symbolic protest at Greystones Harbour today, landing 10 trays of locally caught lobster in protest at the absense of facilities that would allow them use the harbour on a regular basis.

Ivan Toole, skipper of the Golden Venture, a 10 meter long catamaran, said he was “fed up” waiting for facilities that were promised when the old harbour was closed around 2007. He used to use Greystones’s old harbour but now worked out of Dún Laoghaire. The current Greystones Harbour was opened in 2012 but to date, no permanent facilities have been offered to fishermen who had been using the old harbour.

Mr Toole said that the harbour developer Sisk, who are working jointly with Wicklow County Council, has been promising the fishermen quayside access to land their catch “for four years” but had yet to deliver.

The catch landed by Mr Toole and his crew was the result of four days lobster pot fishing between Greystones and Dalkey Island, a haul that included some 40 boxes of crabs, said Mr Toole. He estimated the 200 kilos of lobster landed at Greystones and taken away by a van to be worth about €2,500 gross.

Mr Toole, whose family have fished out of Greystones for five generations, was supported by another long standing fisherman, Tim Storey, who said his fishing vessel had been impounded by the harbour authorities and was now unable to fish at all.

The protest was organised by Mr Toole and a local campaigning group, Give Us Back Our Harbour (GUBOH). It was supported by the cathaoirleach of Wicklow County Council Tom Fortune (Independent) and Sinn Fein Bray councillor John Brady. About 50 people, some of them fishing families, stood on the north quay, cheering and clapping as the Golden Venture entered the harbour and tied up.

Gordon Hunter, an employee of Sisk who works permanently at the harbour, said the fishermen had been told at a meeting in July that they would be able to use the north quay to land their catch and that a gtate would be installed in the fence surrounding much of the harbour so there was land access to remove their catch.

Building crews were on holiday until mid-August and the work necessary to effect access would be done then, he said.

Draft bye-laws, which the fishermen do not support, propose to limit their use of the harbour by banning lobster pots and related equipment from the area. If passed, the laws will also ban the cleaning of fish within the precincts of the harbour, the storing of any fishing equipment there and the sale of fish to the public.

The fishermen have been told also that their vessels must be kept free of “rotten seaweed, fish, bait and the like, so as not to create offensive odours”.

“Effectively, they want to have the harbour as a boat park and not a working harbour, which is what it always was,” said GUBOH spokesman Basil Miller.