BY BRIAN MOORE
CASTLETOWNBERE, Ireland's busiest fishing port, has recorded a record increase in the amount of fish landed in 2016 prompting calls for investment in the industry and local road network.
Just over â¬151 million worth of fish and seafood (95,000 tonnes) passed through the port last year according to latest figures from BIM.Â
While Killybegs is still the biggest Irish port for domestic landings, over 65% of all the fish landed in Castletownbere came ashore from foreign vessels.
Â Jim O'Toole, CEO ofÂ BIM said Castletownbere continued to thrive.Â
âCastletownbere has remained the largest fishing port in Ireland with regards to the value of overall landings, worth â¬111 million in 2016. When produce brought ashore from the local salmon farms are included, this brings the total seafood landings to â¬151 million.Â The port continues to make a significant contribution to employment, with some 80 per cent of local employment relating directly to the fishing sector,' he told The Southern Star.Â
âThere are three major processors based in Castletownbere, and they are supplied almost entirely from local landings. Only 4% of the raw material is imported, which shows the excellent use of the locally caught seafood to add value and maximise revenue to the local and national economy.'
However, the continued increase in the number of vessels landing fish at Castletownbere has prompted calls for immediate investment into the services and infrastructure associated with the fishing industry in West Cork.
Cllr Pat Gerard Murphy (FF) said: âOver 1800 people are directly employed in the fishing sector in West Cork.'
Fishing is a very significant industry in this region and we need to invest now and develop not only the infrastructure and road network in Castletownbere but across West Cork.'Â
Castletownbere is also the 13th busiest Irish port when it comes to the loading and off loading of cargo.
John Murphy, Chairman of Beara Tourism and Development echoed the call for greater investment into the infrastructure in and around Castletownbere.
âWe are delighted that BIM has compiled all the fish landings for Castletownbere, placing it among the top fishing ports in Europe.Â
Over 95,000 tonnes of marine products, including 48,000 tonnes of marine algae, are landed on Castletownbere pier annually,' Mr Murphy said.Â
âHowever, road improvements to the port stalled eight years ago.Â
âFor the port to continue to develop and provide extra jobs we need the government to prioritise the route to Castletownbere in their road improvement plan for county Cork.'