Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Charlie McConalogue, announced the allocation of €37.3 million for capital projects in 2023 in Ireland’s six state-owned Fishery Harbour Centres at Killybegs, Ros an Mhíl, An Daingean, Castletownbere, Dunmore East and Howth through the Fishery Harbour and Coastal Infrastructure Development Programme.
The Minister noted, “the six Fishery Harbour Centres are critical infrastructure for our seafood industry. Approximately 90% of all fish landings into Ireland come through these facilities. This demonstrates how successful these Harbours have become as economic hubs for the Seafood industry. The continuous development of the infrastructure in these Harbours has been critical to the fishing fleet and the land-based seafood processing industry. These Harbours are the economic development drivers for the largely peripheral coastal communities and hinterlands where they are located. The government is committed to continuing to develop these Harbours to underpin our seafood industry and drive on economic development in these areas.”
“Ireland’s 200 miles Exclusive Economic zone provides rich nursery and fishing grounds for our own fleet and for other EU fleets. The Irish Seafood industry and Government, working on the strategy set out by the industry led Seafood Taskforce, are committed to overcoming current challenges and building a strong sustainable Irish seafood industry on a bedrock of sustainably managed fish stocks. A critical element for the future of our fisheries dependant coastal communities is top class landing infrastructure, where a modern seafood industry can operate effectively and be efficiently serviced. Our geographic position close to the fishing grounds and the likely rising real cost of energy in the coming decades provide a strategic opportunity for our harbours and coastal communities to become growing seafood hubs offering best facilities that attract landings from a greater portion of the fish caught in our 200 mile zone. This will help realise the maximum opportunities for primary and secondary processing of seafood in Ireland and provide for a strong Irish seafood processing industry to service our fishing fleet and others and maintain these coastal communities. These are the reasons why I am announcing this significant government capital investment programme in our Fishery Harbour Centres.”
In addition to the Fisheries and Seafood Production industries, the Fishery Harbour Centres are accommodating an ever-increasing amount of diverse marine commercial business, including commercial cargo traffic, cruise liners, restaurants and other leisure, tourism and social activities. All of these activities complement the critical economic activity generated by our fishing industry and help to maintain the vitality of these coastal communities.
In 2021, approximately 88% of the sea fish landed into the State was landed into the six Fishery Harbour Centres. For 2021, Bord Iascaigh Mhara reported that the Irish seafood industry contributed €1.26 billion to the Irish economy.
Two flagship projects are already contracted under the 2023 Programme. These include the Deep Water Quay at Ros an Mhíl (€16 million in 2023) for which the Minister announced a contractor had been appointed in December 2022 and the ongoing Smooth Point pier extension at Killybegs (€7.5 million in 2023) which should be substantially completed this year. The funding announcement will also enable completion of the major Castletownbere development project which the department has been undertaking for the last four years.
The Programme also supports maintenance at Cape Clear and a small number of piers, lights and beacons around the coast in accordance with the 1902 ex-congested Districts Board Piers, Lights and Beacons Act. Additionally, the department’s commitment to supporting the government’s environmental and sustainability objectives is demonstrated with a number of pertinent projects planned under this year’s programme including changeovers to energy efficient lighting and power and water metering to monitor resource consumption.
The Minister concluded by saying, “fishing has always been of significant social and economic importance to Ireland with over 16,000 direct and indirect jobs across fisheries, aquaculture, processing and ancillary sectors and the seafood industry plays a vital role in the sustainable economic viability of many coastal communities across Ireland. With this €37.3 million announcement and my recent announcement of €55.3 million investment this year in 164 public marine infrastructure projects in Local Authority piers, under the Brexit Adjustment Local Authority Marine Infrastructure Scheme 2022-23, I believe this unprecedented investment in state-of the-art facilities around the coast reinforces this government’s strong commitment to support the seafood industry, other marine related industries and coastal communities.”
The funding provided under the Fishery Harbour and Coastal Infrastructure Development Programme is in addition to the funding of €55.3 million for the Brexit Adjustment Local Authority Marine Infrastructure Scheme 2022-23 which the Minister announced in December 2022. That scheme provides funding to local authorities to revitalise Ireland’s public marine infrastructure.