West Regional Inshore Fisheries Forum Overview
The West RIFF area comprises the coastal zone of Clare and Galway extending from Kilimer on the Shannon Estuary to Leenane, Connemara, Co. Galway. The fishing fleet in this area represents just over 18% of the national fleet according to the national fleet register in July 2014. There are approximately 426 vessels in the polyvalent general, polyvalent potting, aquaculture and specific sectors. Just sixteen of these vessels were over 18 meters while ten were between 12 and 18 meters. There were 400 vessels under 12m; Galway represents 92% of these while Clare represents 8%. The majority of these inshore vessels are distributed across the smaller harbours and piers in the region prosecuting a variety of fish and shellfish species by a range of gear types as below.
The main fishing port in County Galway is Ros an Mhíl, a National Fisheries Harbour Centre along with smaller harbours and piers where the inshore fleet operates. These harbours and piers are dotted along the coast line in County Galway from Inishbofin to Ballinacourty in South Galway. The piers and harbours with 3 or more boats fishing out of this area include; Inishbofin Harbour, Rossroe, Derryinver, Cleggan, Aughris and Clifden in North Connemara; Bunowen, Roundstone, Mace, Ard West, Crumpán, Ard Mor and Kilkerrian in West Connemara and Lettermullan, Trá Bán, Caladh Thaidhg, Sruthán and Ros a Mhíl in South Connemara. In North Galway Bay the small harbours/piers of Inverin, Spiddal, Barna and the Galway Docks are of importance and out to the west Kilronan and Killeaney on Inis Mór, Caladh Mór on Inis Meáin and Inis Oirr pier on the Aran Islands. The small piers at Rinville and Ballinacourty are of importance to the inshore fleet in South Galway Bay area.
In Clare the piers and harbours with 3 or more vessels fishing on a seasonal basis include New Quay in the north of the county followed by Ballyvaughan, Doolin, Liscannor, Quilty, Doonbeg and Carrigaholt in the south of the County.
The fisheries in the West RIFF area include:
- Lobster is fished from Shannon Estuary to the Killary.
- Brown crab is fished off the Clare coast, in Galway Bay and off north Connemara and as a by catch in the Lobster Fishery.
- Spider Crab is becoming a targeted fishery in the last few years in the Galway Region by pots or nets?
- Crayfish are caught by tangle-netting on a weather dependent basis.
- Velvet crab is targeted in the Shannon Estuary ,Galway Bay, and in some of the sheltered bays in south and north Connemara.
- The shrimp fishery is particularly significant in the Shannon Estuary, inner Galway Bay and the sheltered bays of south and north Connemara.
- Managed scallop fishing in South Connemara under Comharchumann Sligeisc Connemara, with sporadic scallop fishing in Galway Bay/ North Connemara and Clare coast.
- Inshore trawling occurs in Galway Bay, north Connemara and off the Clare coast.
- Trawling and jigging for whitefish occurs all along the coast.