Protests against bylaws to regulate harbour activities
Organised swims took place off several piers in Kerry yesterday to draw attention to proposed new harbour bylaws to regulate swimming and fishing activities.
Earlier this year, a draft set of laws that had gone out for public consultation was withdrawn after councillors refused to back them, saying fishermen and others had not been aware of them and wanted a better chance to make submissions.
Submissions are invited on the proposed laws, which also ban loudhailers and loud music and stipulate that only the harbour master is allowed to shout directions for vessels. Alcohol use, landing and unloading of freight and passengers and even switching berths is covered.
Sunken vessels, waste, jettison, movement and the position of vessels at a quay are all to be regulated.
Yesterday’s protesters said they feared a ban on diving and swimming would be included in this set. Charges are also being imposed on fishermen and harbour users, which protesters say are draconian.
Sixteen of Kerry’s 57 piers and harbours will come under the draft bylaws – including Kilmackillogue, Kells, Cahirciveen, Kenmare, the fishing port of Portmagee, Knightstown in Valentia Island, Brandon and Ventry in west Kerry and Tarbert in the north.
“We need to make the public aware they have to make submissions,” said Denise Collins of Kells, where one of the largest swims took place yesterday. “Traditional activities such as swimming will be over-regulated, we fear.”