Facilitated by BIM, local industry groups in Castletownbere and Union Hall recently met with Tom Piper of KIMO UK to hear what the UK ‘Fishing for Litter’ programme has achieved and what lessons can be learnt to ensure the programme gains traction in Ireland.
Pictured L to R: Catherine Barrett, BIM and Tom Piper, KIMO UK with students in the BIM National Fisheries College, Castletownbere studying for their Skipper’s certificates.
BIM has already established the ‘BIM Fishing for Litter’ programme in three ports – Castletownbere, Union Hall and Clogherhead. Fishing for Litter encourages fishermen to collect their litter while out at sea, both on board and litter that is caught in nets or drifting at sea. The response has been extremely positive and local representatives including the respective Harbour Master’s, fishermen, community groups and Cork County Council have been instrumental in its progress to date.
The success of the programme in the UK has demonstrated that the cost of marine litter is not only borne by the marine environment. The UK programme has shown the cost to the fishing industry is on average €12,000 per boat, each year, through contamination of catches, broken gear and fouled propellers. Each boat is calculated to take 41 hours a year to remove marine debris from its nets, a significant amount of a boat’s allocated days at sea.
In Castletownbere, Harbour Master Cormac McGinley welcomed their involved; ‘We are delighted to take part in this initiative that fits well with our existing marine waste collection facilities. Through BIM and Frank Fleming of Responsible Irish Fish, we are confident we can continue to get fishermen to sign up and take part in this worthwhile programme’
During KIMO UK’s visit to Union Hall, retired fisherman and current BIM Board Director, Mr Bill Deasy warmly welcomed volunteers from the Union Hall Tidy Town/Coast care group and Mary Stack of Cork County Council’s Environmental Awareness & Research Unit, who actively promote waste prevention and resource conservation.
Teresa Shanahan, Union Hall Coast Care, offered her support to the initiative stating; ‘by removing waste from the sea and preventing the discard of further litter, our beaches will become cleaner and safer and the impact on marine wildlife through ingestion, entanglement and contamination will also be reduced’
Union Hall Harbour Master John Minihane has facilitated a designated point in his busy compound where ‘Fishing for Litter’ bags can be kept and collated, ready for safe and responsible disposal of the waste ashore. ‘Cork County Council provide a number of facilities for effective waste management for the local vessels on the pier, being the first county council run pier to participate in Fishing for Litter is a pleasure, as it’s a win for the marine environment and a win for those whose livelihoods depend on quality seafood’ explained John.
Mr Deasy, with close and extended intergenerational family connections in the fishing business, acknowledged; ‘this is one of the positive steps which industry itself is taking to maintain a healthy marine environment for future generations’.
Fishermen working out of Clogherhead , Union Hall and Castletownbere wishing to join the scheme should contact Catherine Barrett , BIM Project Officer on firstname.lastname@example.org or 087 2897651. Locally, Oliver Kirwan, on 086 8307331 in Clogherhead, and the Harbour Masters’ in Union Hall and Castletownbere can be contacted to collect Fishing for Litter heavy duty bags.