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€39.5m Pier Development Opens in Castletownbere

1st May 2012
€39.5m Pier Development Opens in Castletownbere

#CASTLETOWNBERE –The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Simon Coveney TD officially opened the major new €39.5 million Dinish Wharf Development on Dinish Island at Castletownbere Fishery Harbour Centre and also launched the community led development strategy - 'Castletownbere - An Economic Survey to Determine the Level of Seafood Activity and Establish its Economic Importance for the Region' in Castletownbere today, the 30th April.

Castletownbere Fishery Harbour Centre is one of Ireland's major fishing ports and is Ireland's largest whitefish port. Proximity to rich fishing grounds makes Castletownbere an attractive fish landing location for Irish and foreign vessels. The major pier development on Dinish Island which commenced in 2005 as part of a multi stage project now provides world class infrastructure to grow the marine industries in Castletownbere to new levels. The project is a major infrastructural development that included the dredging of the approach channel, inner harbour and berthing quay at Dinish Island, the construction of a 215m quay and associated infrastructure. The harbour can now accommodate more modern and larger vessels in our fleet and visiting fleets. The development will address congestion in the harbour and presents possibilities for other large fishing vessels to berth at Dinish Island increasing the supply of fish for processing or export and generating greater economic activity. In addition, cruise vessels, large commercial or exploration vessels will also now be able to land into and operate out of Castletownbere.

The report - 'Castletownbere - An Economic Survey to Determine the Level of Seafood Activity and Establish its Economic Importance for the Region' which was facilitated by BIM is the result of a collaborative action by local stakeholders.

The report details qualitative and quantative information on the value that fishing contributes to the town directly and indirectly through ancillary services. Fishing has helped to sustain and develop the local economy. The report identifies new opportunities for the area.

Minister Coveney said; "The new Dinish Wharf Development at Castletownbere Fishery Harbour Centre is an impressive piece of infrastructure. It provides a springboard to grow the fishing, aquaculture and associated industries to new heights and opens the door to the opportunities identified in the report being launched today. I would like to acknowledge the contribution of everyone associated with the construction of this facility, which was lead by my Department. I would also like to congratulate and recognise the hard work that has gone into the compilation of this very detailed report on Castletownbere. As Ireland's largest whitefish port, we are all aware of the integral part the town plays in our fishing industry but it is inspiring to see that local community representatives are now looking to further develop ways to grow the fishing and aquaculture output in the area with a view to generating increased revenue and employment".

Minister Coveney continued "I am very impressed by the initiative and hard work of the local community and stakeholders who have prepared a clear and forward thinking report on the future opportunities to grow employment and economic activity in Castletownbere. I would like to, in particular, thank Eibhlin O'Sullivan (Irish South and West Fishermen's Producer Organisation (IS&WFPO) and Frank Fleming (key actor in the local seafood sector) for their work in bringing together this important work. I would also like to thank Michael Keatinge of BIM for his contribution to the report. This report can now be used as a strategy to drive the seafood sector in Castletownbere forward and deliver much needed job creation and economic activity in the south west based not just on seafood but also on the other economic activities which have been identified in the report as offering potential. The major investment in the harbour can now be the launch pad for delivering on the potential identified in the Report."

Finally Minister Coveney said "Adding value to fish landed in Castletownbere is key to the economic future of the area. For every €1 million of fish landed, a further €2.12m is created by the processing and ancillary sectors. If we can process more Irish and foreign landings, the area will benefit substantially and we are currently working through BIM and the industry to achieve this."

A number of key actions are outlined in the report including:

Improved co-operation in the catching sector

New gear adaptations and techniques

Tuna processing

Surimi processing of boarfish as well as other human consumption options

Frozen prawns at sea brand

Greater differentiation of product in the market place

Explore the potential for adding value from foreign landings

Increase aquaculture development and support including processing.

The report proposes that a local stakeholder group is tasked to implement the actions set out in the report.

Castletownbere is one of six Fishery Harbour Centres that is owned, managed and Developed by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (others are located at Dunmore East, Howth, Killybegs, Ros an Mhíl and Dingle). The Castletownbere Fishery Harbour Centre Development was initiated following the introduction of more modern and lager fishing vessels carrying greater draft (up to 6 metres) and to ease congestion within the harbour. The development consists of the construction of a new 215 metre quay, a dredged berthing basin and a dredged approach channel.

- Dredging

Due to the historic use of antifouling paints on boats significant concentrations of contaminated sediments were found within the harbour. Specialist dredging techniques, including seabed profiling and use of an eco-dredging bucket were used to bring dredge material ashore. The silt was then stabilised using cement bentonite prior to shipping to a licensed disposal site in Germany.

The remaining uncontaminated dredging material was, where suitable, used to reclaim a substantial area of foreshore. A quantity of material (silt) was disposed at sea.

The deepened and widened approach and manoeuvring channels will allow greater access for deep sea and inshore fishing vessels. Two new navigation piles were constructed marking the approach channel further improving navigational safety within the harbour.

- New Dinish Wharf

The construction of the new Dinish Wharf comprised of two separate elements. The first was a new mass concrete wall supporting a reinforced concrete deck. The completion of this new quay allowed the fishing fleet to move from the existing old Dinish Wharf, thereby keeping the harbour fully operational during construction.

The second stage was replacement of the old Dinish Wharf Pier, an open timber fender construction, which was structurally inadequate. The replacement structure is a suspended reinforced concrete slab supported on steel cased reinforce concrete piles, with a concrete face.

The completed Dinish Wharf development provides a total berthing length of 266 metres (including end return walls); and a 0.7 hectare deck surface working area. The total cost of developing the new quay, dredging berthing basin and dredging approach channel amounted to €39.5 million

Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM), the Irish Sea Fisheries Board is the Irish State agency with responsibility for developing the Irish Sea Fishing and Aquaculture industries. BIM provides commercially relevant and innovative services to the Irish seafood industry that drive growth opportunities, add value, enhance competitiveness and create jobs in a sustainable, natural resource based industry for the benefit of coastal communities.

- Castletownbere is the primary urban economic and social centre on the Beara Peninsula in South West Ireland. The harbour is one of the largest natural harbours in the world and is formed by Dinish Island to the south (hosting most of the fisheries infrastructure and processing activity) and the town of Castletownbere to the north.

- The town is set in a dramatic and largely unspoilt landscape that is an important asset in the development of secondary, tourist-based, economic activity.

- Castletownbere remains the largest whitefish port in Ireland, with vessels from Spain, Scotland and France making significant landings of whitefish to the port alongside the local fleet.

- The total landed value of fish was €50.4 million in 2010, with around 11,000 tonnes with a value of €23 million landed by Irish vessels targeting pelagic species, monkfish, other whitefish and tuna and 7,500 tonnes with a value of €27 million from foreign vessels targeting monkfish, hake and megrim. There are also significant landings of shellfish (Nephrops, crab and lobster) by the Irish inshore fleet.

The group that produced the report 'Castletownbere - An Economic Survey to Determine the Level of Seafood Activity and Establish its Economic Importance for the Region' was chaired by Eibhlin O'Sullivan (Irish South and West Fishermen's Producer Organisation (IS&WFPO) with the assistance of Frank Fleming (consultant to the IS&WFPO), and co-ordinated by Rod Cappell (Poseidon Aquatic Resource Management Ltd).

The report details how the fish catching and processing sectors in Castletownbere account for over half (54%) of the town's economic activity (the total economic activity for the town is an estimated €146 million). With the inclusion of aquaculture and ancillary sectors, this rises to 86% fisheries-related turnover with the induced spend by employees of these sectors making a substantial contribution to the service and retail sector of the town. Local companies supply oil to the local fleet, foreign fleet and also to vessels based outside of Castletownbere. The total value of the ancillary sector, based on local fleet sales, is estimated to be €19 million (17% of total turnover).

The population of Castletownbere is estimated to be between 900 and 1,000. In terms of employment, 660 jobs representing 81% of the employment in Castletownbere, are related to fishing. This remarkably high level of dependency has been sustained in the area throughout the year as fish is landed from a wide range of fisheries.

Published in Coastal Notes Team

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