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Economic Assessment of South-East Galway Bay Finds it Supports 550 Jobs

23rd November 2021
Reconnecting the land and the sea - Ruairí Ó Conchúir – Local Authority Waters Programme (LAWPRO), Diarmuid Kelly, Gerry O Halloran, and Colm O Dowd at the launch of Cuan Beo’s report on the Economic Assessment of the Marine Resources of South East Galway Bay Catchment at the Golf Club at the Galway Bay Golf Resort Renville, Oranmore.
Reconnecting the land and the sea - Ruairí Ó Conchúir – Local Authority Waters Programme (LAWPRO), Diarmuid Kelly, Gerry O Halloran, and Colm O Dowd at the launch of Cuan Beo’s report on the Economic Assessment of the Marine Resources of South East Galway Bay Catchment at the Golf Club at the Galway Bay Golf Resort Renville, Oranmore Credit: Andrew Downes

A one-year economic assessment of the southeast Galway Bay catchment has found it generated revenues of €105 million and supported about 550 jobs.

The report was commissioned by Cuan Beo, a community based coastal organisation working in south-east Galway Bay, and is the first of its kind according to the group.

Its findings were presented at a regional event held late last week which was attended by local politicians and policymakers, representatives of State agencies, and farmers, fishermen, community and tourism groups, scientists and environmental groups living in the catchment.

The event was moderated by Dr Micheál Ó Cinnéide, former director of the Environmental Protection Agency and now with Corrib Beo.

The report describes how a very distinct geographical area is connected by a common drainage system, drawing all rainfall and run-off water in the catchment and discharging it into Galway Bay.

It is one of 46 catchments in Ireland, according to the EPA, and covers an area of approximately 1,200 Km2. It includes about 117 km of coastline stretching from Galway harbour to Blackhead in Co Clare and extends inland to Athenry, Loughrea and Gort.

The report highlights the value and importance of data collection and management for the catchment, and potential growth areas across a number of key sectors where the resources available in the catchment could be developed in a sustainable manner to create new jobs and generate revenue.

These growth areas include climate technology, blue health, marine and coastal tourism, research and local community development and the report says they offer “unparalleled opportunities for growth and sustainable development, building on the circular economy and supporting climate-resilient communities”.

“Now that we have established market and non-market economic baselines, this report will heighten awareness with policymakers and planners as to the true value of the resource base and the marine environment,” Cuan Beo chair Diarmuid Kelly said.

“ It will promote this catchment as a location for research and development in sustainability and environmental enhancement. This will become increasingly important as social and environmental measures, such as carbon emissions and sustainability development goals, are established and monitored,” he said.

The report was conducted by Dr Colm O’Dowd who noted that “valuing both market and non-market products and services from the marine environment is necessary if they are to be included in marine spatial planning and management decisions”.

“For example, while we know that shipping and tourism are vital economic pillars in this catchment, there is little awareness of the value of marine-related recreation or the potential healthcare savings associated with activities such as sea
swimming,” O’Dowd said.

“Assessing the economic value of these activities and of marine ecosystems should influence decision making on marine spatial planning and support improvements in water quality and access to coastal areas,” he said.

The report was funded by Cuan Beo, the Local Authority Waters Programme (LAWPRO) and the EU Maritime and Fisheries Fund under the FLAG West Programme.

A copy of the report is available here 

Lorna Siggins

About The Author

Lorna Siggins

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Lorna Siggins is a print and radio reporter, and a former Irish Times western correspondent. She is the author of Everest Callling (1994) on the first Irish Everest expedition; Mayday! Mayday! (2004) on Irish helicopter search and rescue; and Once Upon a Time in the West: the Corrib gas controversy (2010).

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Galway Port & Harbour

Galway Bay is a large bay on the west coast of Ireland, between County Galway in the province of Connacht to the north and the Burren in County Clare in the province of Munster to the south. Galway city and port is located on the northeast side of the bay. The bay is about 50 kilometres (31 miles) long and from 10 kilometres (6.2 miles) to 30 kilometres (19 miles) in breadth.

The Aran Islands are to the west across the entrance and there are numerous small islands within the bay.

Galway Port FAQs

Galway was founded in the 13th century by the de Burgo family, and became an important seaport with sailing ships bearing wine imports and exports of fish, hides and wool.

Not as old as previously thought. Galway bay was once a series of lagoons, known as Loch Lurgan, plied by people in log canoes. Ancient tree stumps exposed by storms in 2010 have been dated back about 7,500 years.

It is about 660,000 tonnes as it is a tidal port.

Capt Brian Sheridan, who succeeded his late father, Capt Frank Sheridan

The dock gates open approximately two hours before high water and close at high water subject to ship movements on each tide.

The typical ship sizes are in the region of 4,000 to 6,000 tonnes

Turbines for about 14 wind projects have been imported in recent years, but the tonnage of these cargoes is light. A European industry report calculates that each turbine generates €10 million in locally generated revenue during construction and logistics/transport.

Yes, Iceland has selected Galway as European landing location for international telecommunications cables. Farice, a company wholly owned by the Icelandic Government, currently owns and operates two submarine cables linking Iceland to Northern Europe.

It is "very much a live project", Harbourmaster Capt Sheridan says, and the Port of Galway board is "awaiting the outcome of a Bord Pleanála determination", he says.

90% of the scrap steel is exported to Spain with the balance being shipped to Portugal. Since the pandemic, scrap steel is shipped to the Liverpool where it is either transhipped to larger ships bound for China.

It might look like silage, but in fact, its bales domestic and municipal waste, exported to Denmark where the waste is incinerated, and the heat is used in district heating of homes and schools. It is called RDF or Refuse Derived Fuel and has been exported out of Galway since 2013.

The new ferry is arriving at Galway Bay onboard the cargo ship SVENJA. The vessel is currently on passage to Belem, Brazil before making her way across the Atlantic to Galway.

Two Volvo round world races have selected Galway for the prestigious yacht race route. Some 10,000 people welcomed the boats in during its first stopover in 2009, when a festival was marked by stunning weather. It was also selected for the race finish in 2012. The Volvo has changed its name and is now known as the "Ocean Race". Capt Sheridan says that once port expansion and the re-urbanisation of the docklands is complete, the port will welcome the "ocean race, Clipper race, Tall Ships race, Small Ships Regatta and maybe the America's Cup right into the city centre...".

The pandemic was the reason why Seafest did not go ahead in Cork in 2020. Galway will welcome Seafest back after it calls to Waterford and Limerick, thus having been to all the Port cities.

© Afloat 2020

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