South East Regional Inshore Fisheries Forum Overview
The South East RIFF area comprises the coastal zone of Wicklow, Wexford and Waterford from Greystones Co. Wicklow to the River at Youghal, Co. Cork. The fishing fleet in the South East RIFF area represents approximately 12% of the national fleet according to the national fleet register in July 2104. There are approximately 257 vessels included in the polyvalent general, potting, specific and beamer sectors. Forty two of these vessels were over 18 m while nine were between 12 and 18 m. There were 206 vessels under 12 m; Wexford accounts for 44% of these while Waterford accounts for 39.5% and Wicklow 16.5 %.
The key areas for inshore fishing are in West Waterford including An Rinn, along the ‘Copper coast’, adjacent to and including within the Waterford Estuary from Dunmore East to the Hook head on to Kilmore Quay, Rosslare and north of the county Wexford around Arklow and Wicklow towns.
The main larger fishing ports/harbours are Wicklow, Arklow, Wexford town, Rosslare harbour, Kilmore Quay, Dunmore East, a National Fishery Harbour Centre and Helvick.
Smaller piers/harbours include; Greystones, Courtown, Rosslare cot safe, Carne, Fethard On Sea, Slade, Duncannon, Arthurstown, Ballyhack, Cheekpoint, Passage, Tramore, Dunbrattin, Ballinagoul and Ardmore.
The fisheries in the South East area include:
- Lobster and brown crab (also spider and velvet crab) is mainly fished along the south Wexford and East Waterford coast. Green crab is also fished within the Waterford Estuary.
- Shrimp is fished from Helvick and Dunmore East on the Waterford coast and Rosslare and Fethard Bay on the Wexford coast.
- Whelk fishing mainly occurs in Wicklow and North/East Wexford, also pockets adjacent to the Waterford estuary and Helvick.
- Scallop dredging mainly occurs on the south Wexford and Waterford coast, off Saltees, Baginbun and Hook Head (main inshore activity) with some pockets up the east coast such as at Wicklow Head.
- Razor clams are fished from Rosslare harbour and Cahore with potential beds also in the Co. Waterford coastal area.
- Surf clams are dredged in the Waterford Estuary.
- Cockles are dredged in the Waterford Estuary, with potential beds elsewhere (e.g. Tramore back strand).
- Line fishing, primarily jigging for mackerel mainly at Dunmore East with some line fishing for Whitefish throughout the RIFF area, including some trolling.
- Gill netting off the South Wexford and Waterford coasts.
- Inshore trawling inside the Waterford estuary and generally throughout the southeast.
- Herring and sprat trawling by inshore and offshore boats in the Waterford estuary area.
Fish sales take place throughout the South East RIFF area, with Kilmore Quay the largest centre for employment through added value/processing of fish.
Other Marine/Non fishing activities
- Aquaculture – Bottom culture mussels (Wexford harbour and Waterford Estuary), and gigas oysters (Dungarvan Bay, Waterford Estuary and Bannow Bay).
- Marine Leisure – The south east RIFF area has a large number of passenger/charter boats (charter angling and cetacean watching etc.). The largest number of these (up to 10) are based out of Kilmore Quay, but vessels also are located in Wicklow, Courtown, Duncannon/Waterford Estuary, Dunmore East and Dungarvan.