Yachts seeking berths in any of the State’s main fishery harbours are now facing increased charges of up to 800 per cent under a planned new law.
The Irish Marine Federation has expressed concern about the proposed fee increases published recently by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine.
The proposed new charges apply to the six fishery centres of Killybegs, Co. Donegal; Rossaveal, Co. Galway; Dingle, Co. Kerry; Castletownbere, Co. Cork; Dunmore East, Co. Waterford; and Howth, Co. Dublin.
While only two of the six have pontoons suitable for leisure craft the fee increases will apply across the board, replacing previous charges set by former minister Dermot Ahern in 2003.
The new charges would mean that a 10-metre yacht, which paid an average €312 a year for a berth, will be charged up to €2,500 a year under the new terms.
The draft regulations stipulate that water and electricity charges will also be extra. These services are normally included in marina fees and Water costs are now estimated to be in the region of €30 a day where metering is not available.
This would bring the average cost for a 10-metre yacht to €3,100 for the year, without proper marina facilities in most cases.
Federation chairman David O’Brien said that for every euro spent on a berth in a harbour, €10 was normally spent by yacht owners and crew in local shops and restaurants. “That’s a good tourism dividend for coastal towns, and the IMF would not like to see anything damage that.” Tourism interests in Killybegs were equally concerned about the new charges. One local business person commented, “We have spent considerable time and money in developing Killybegs as not only a fishing port but a centre for marine leisure activities.
“We have all seen the growth of cruise liners visiting the area and the benefits to the area. It has always been the dream of many Killybegs residents and indeed visitors to the area to see a pleasure marina working in tandem with the industrial sector - these new charges will do nothing to further that cause.”