South West Regional Inshore Fisheries Forum Overview
The South West RIFF area comprises the coastal zone of Cork and Kerry, extending from Youghal in east Cork to the coastal border of Kerry and Limerick, just west of Foynes. The fishing fleet in this area represents approximately 32% of the national fleet according to the national fleet register in July 2014. There are approximately 647 vessels included in the polyvalent general, specific and potting sectors. Sixty six of these vessels were over 18m while 40 were between 12 and 18m. There were 541 vessels under 12m; Cork accounts for 63% of these while Kerry 37%. The majority of the 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 described later.
The main fishing ports in county Cork include Castletownbere, a National Fisheries Harbour Centre, along with Cobh, Ballycotton, Kinsale and Union Hall in Cork while Dingle Fishery Harbour Centre is the main port in Kerry. Elsewhere fishing and tourism activities occur at a relatively large number of smaller harbours and piers along the coastline including Brandon on the Dingle Peninsula and Cahersiveen and Portmagee on the Iveragh Peninsula. Piers with three or more fishing vessels operating out of the Beara Peninsula include Ardgroom/Cuas, Ballycovane, Garnish, and Ardrigole up to Bantry. Along the south coast of Cork, the busiest piers for fishing and recreational activities are Crookhaven, Schull, Cunnamore, Turkhead, Baltimore, Castletownsend, Ring, Oysterhaven, Crosshaven and Knockadoon.
In Kerry piers and harbours with three or more vessels fishing on a seasonal basis include; Ballyheigue and to the north Cashen and Meenagahane followed by Fenit to the south which is the centre of the native oyster fishing. At the Maharees (Scaggane pier) there is a significant fleet of <12m vessels, some of which fish all year round. Brandon and Ballydavid are still active although they have been badly affected by the ban on mixed stock fishing for salmon. Ard na Caithne also serves the fishermen in Smerwick Harbour. Dún Chaoin, although affording no protection in swell or weather does serve fishing vessels seasonally. Ventry harbour has two piers – Ventry and Cuan which serve fishing vessels. Outside of Dingle Harbour, Dingle Bay is served by piers/slips on a seasonal basis in Minard and Kells Bay while The Point at Cromane is year round focal point for both fishing and aquaculture activity. The area south of Cahersiveen supports a strong potting fleet, the focal piers for which are Portmagee, Cahersiveen and Knighstown. Further south along the coast and around to the Cork border numerous small piers and slips dot the coastline, the foremost among them are Ballinskelligs and Westcove with fishing vessels and several leisure craft; Oysterbed Pier outside of Sneem is used for lobster shrimp and mussel aquaculture; Blackwater serves a few of the inner Kenmare River fishers and the south side of the Kenmare River is served by a number of small landing places between Tuosist and Kilmacilogue harbour.
The fisheries in the South West RIFF area include:
- Broadly prosecuted pot fisheries for Lobster from the river Shannon to east Cork.
- Brown Crab pot fishery with high dependency from north Kerry -Tralee Bay south to Kenmare Bay, Castletownbere and east to Youghal.
- The Shrimp pot fishery is particularly significant in the South West; Valentia Harbour into Dingle Bay, Kenmare River around into Castletownbere and east to Roaringwater Bay and Ballycotton.
- Spider crab is significant top entry pot fishery in north Kerry – Tralee Bay with seasonal fisheries in other areas.
- Crayfish are caught both by tangle-netting from north Kerry to east Cork. There is a significant bycatch to the top entry pot fishery in Tralee Bay.
- Scalloping occurs off the Blasket Islands and in the Kenmare River, Valentia Harbour, Bere Island Harbour and Bantry Bay, also a limited dredge fishery on the south coast in the area of the Stag rocks and in Roaringwater Bay. Shading/poling harvest of scallop also occurs.
- Nephrops pot fishery in Bantry Bay and Kenmare River.
- Green crab fishery around Cromane and in Cork particularly in Roaringwater and Bantry Bays.
- Velvet crab pot fishery.
- Whelk pot fishery – Roaringwater Bay and small fishery in Tralee bay.
- Inshore trawling occurs in Dingle Bay predominantly with some also occurring in Tralee Bay and North of the Kerry Head shoals. Fintan’s Bay in the Kenmare River provide some towing areas also. In Cork inshore trawling occurs along the south coast from Bantry Bay to Youghal, – Nephrops and mixed Demersal fishery.
- Hook & line fisheries including trolling and jigging for whitefish occur all along the coast.
- Mackerel gillnet fishery – Garnish.
- Gillnetting for demersal species.
SW Region’s Licensed Charter fleet has approximately forty vessels over 10 meters with 4-5 smaller vessels distributed as follows: Cork Harbour Area (Youghal to Kinsale), ten 10 meter boats plus five smaller vessels, with 5 vessels from the Old Head of Kinsale to Castletown while the Kerry Coast has twenty five 10 meter vessels and five smaller vessels.