Sea Fisheries Protection Authority to examine extending opening hours at 'designated' ports
The plight of small-scale fishermen has been raised with Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine.
Donegal TD, Pádraig Mac Lochlainn, Sinn Féin spokesperson on Fisheries and the Marine, tabled a parliamentary question to Minister Charlie McConalogue, asking if he would extend the landing days and hours for UK and North of Ireland registered fishing vessels landing in designated piers and harbours in the State?
Deputy Mac Lochlainn also asked if the Minister's attention had been drawn to the danger to small-scale fishermen, in particular, from limited days and times for landing fish, which may force them to fish in poor weather conditions.
In early April, Inish Live reported Malin Head fisherman, Anthony Harley's grim prediction that a fisher was going to get lost at sea because Greencastle was the peninsula's only designated port for boats under 15 metres, fishing non quota species.
This meant boats belonging to Inishowen skippers and registered in the North can only land there between 2pm and 8pm, from Monday to Friday.
In response to Pádraig Mac Lochlainn, Minister McConalogue said: "I am currently considering the designation of further ports for landings by UK vessels registered in Northern Ireland and I have asked the Sea Fisheries Protection Authority (SFPA) to examine the possibility of extended opening hours where feasible.
"The current ports designated and the opening days and times for those ports were decided to allow for Northern Ireland registered vessels to continue to land into Irish ports, while ensuring that the SFPA has the capacity to continue to perform its vital control functions effectively.
I would also like to assure the Deputy that the designation of ports for landings does not preclude vessels from coming into ports for force majeure reasons such as safe harbour."
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