CREW on board a Spanish trawler that landed fish in Castletownbere have tested positive for Covid-19, prompting major concerns for the safety of the community, and supply lines to Europe.
Six crew and the skipper have been confirmed as having the virus since returning from landing their catch in the West Cork port on April 21st.
It’s also believed that another crew member who had felt sick en route from Spain, has tested positive for the antibodies, showing he had the virus, but has recovered.
The skipper of the ship informed Spanish authorities that none of the crew went ashore in Castletownbere.
However, head of the Castletownbere-based Irish South and West Fish Producers Organisation, Patrick Murphy, said the situation raised a major red flag, and called for better communication of the Covid-19 protocols in place in ports by both Irish and Spanish governments.
‘There are 30 landings, mostly from Spain, a week in Castletownbere with crews of 10, and a minimum of 30 lorry drivers. It’s the equivalent of a cruise liner. We need to know that proper protocols are in place on both sides in the event of someone getting sick on board a vessel. This trawler could have been a serious threat to us, and our trade lines. Serious questions need to be answered,’ he said.
‘This is not about the fishing community, but the health of people in Castletownbere and our trade lines. We’re an island nation, and they have to protected. We are learning as we go, but we raised this as a potential issue with the department some time back, and now we’ve seen what could potentially happen,’ said Mr Murphy.
He said that economies have been shut down, and air travel halted, but that it was still unclear to him what was the protocol if the virus got on a boat.
A spokesperson for the Department of Agriculture and Marine said that when the MFV Notre Dame Cedeira offloaded its catch in Castletownbere Fishery Harbour Centre, procedures put in place by the Department for all fish landings were implemented in full.