The Irish Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Simon Coveney TD has 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, 30th April 2012.

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.”

He added: “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.