Committee hears proposals on islands and coastal communities ‘gathering dust’

Islanders disappointed recommendations are not being implemented

A report published more than a year ago on boosting island and coastal communities has been "gathering dust", the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Agriculture, Food and the Marine has heard.

A group of island representatives told the committee it was disappointing that the Promoting Sustainable Rural, Coastal and Island Communities report had made little progress since it was launched by the Oireachtas subcommittee on fisheries in January 2014.

Bere Islander John Walshe, of the Irish Islands Marine Resource Organisation, said his group was set up on the recommendation of the committee.

“We’re after pulling ourselves together. We’re after getting fishermen from Cork, Galway, Mayo and Donegal together . . . so we’re coming to the point of where do we go.”

The report made 29 recommendations on boosting island and coastal communities through activities such as aquaculture, inshore fishing, tourism and seaweed activities.

Recommendation

The organisation's chairman Jerry Early from Árainn Mhór highlighted one recommendation on the feasibility of issuing heritage licences to island communities to support traditional fishing practices.

“This recommendation is of great and significant importance, and we feel this recommendation needs to be acted on immediately,” he said.

Mr Early said it was very disappointing that nothing had happened since the launch of the report. “Much voluntary time and effort was put into setting up this group and we feel that we have held up our end of the bargain . . . We were assured this report would not gather dust so hopefully with the help of your good selves this will not be the case.”

Enda Conneely of Inis Oírr said funding for aquaculture must be targeted to support local communities but "funding seems to be essentially going by way of large multinational entities . . . and it seems to be focused on one particular form of aquaculture that we would consider to be, at this stage, nearing the end of its lifespan."

Committee chairman Andrew Doyle said the committee would come up with a way of kick-starting the process to get the recommendations implemented. "We don't want to see it ending up just on a shelf somewhere. We want to see some action," he said.

Alison Healy

Alison Healy

Alison Healy is a contributor to The Irish Times

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