Concerns raised over price hike at harbour

Sue Doherty

Reporter:

Sue Doherty

A Donegal TD has branded government proposals to increase charges at Killybegs harbour as ‘ridiculous’ while the head of the Killybegs Fishermen’s Organisation has said they could spell the end of the cruise liner business in Killybegs.

A Donegal TD has branded government proposals to increase charges at Killybegs harbour as ‘ridiculous’ while the head of the Killybegs Fishermen’s Organisation has said they could spell the end of the cruise liner business in Killybegs.

It’s emerged that government plans to hike fees at harbours owned by the Dept. of Agriculture, Food and the Marine could see cruise liners asked to pay €40,000 for a 6-hour stop in Killybegs and fishermen paying 40 per cent more to land mackerel there. New charges may also be introduced to land whitefish.

Independent TD Thomas Pringle told the Donegal Democrat: “What worries me more is how the proposed new charges could affect the fishing industry here in Killybegs.

“They are talking about increasing the fee for landing mackerel from €10 per tonne to €14 per tonne, which is massive. They are also at looking at introducing a new charge of €400 for landing whitefish. To even be considering increasing charges in the current economic climate is ridiculous, especially in light of the Jobs Creation Task Force announced by the Minister last year in Killybegs.

“The Taoiseach’s been making a big show lately of asking Government Department’s to review their costings to ensure that they are not burdening businesses. These proposed increases make a mockery of all that.”

Sean O Donoghue of the Killybegs Fishermens Organisation

said his members share Deputy Pringle’s worries.

“We are seriously concerned about some of the proposed charges, particularly with regard to mackerel, whitefish and cruise liners.

“There would need to be a total revamp of these charges, otherwise we would see a serious loss of business out of Killybegs and I’m not just talking about the KFO.

“In addition to our fishing concerns, a lot of work has gone into trying to develop marine leisure activities at Killybegs, including tourism. “Currently, cruise liners pay a charge of €1.20 per passenger. There is a line in the proposals about introducing a new charge of €1 per tonne for ‘other non-fishing vessels’. If that applies to cruise liners, it would mean the end of the cruise liner business for Killybegs.

“A cruise liner could be asked to pay up to €40,000 to stop at Killybegs for six hours. There are ten cruise liners coming into Killybegs this year but we won’t see that happening if these charges are brought in. The ships will just go somewhere else.

“We will be actively pursuing the Minister and the Department to make changes to these proposals.

“The bottom line is that we don’t expect to get something for nothing but charges have to be reasonable, commercial and in line with other ports, otherwise the business will go elsewhere.”