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Fishermen fall out with Shell

Keith Bourke - Western People

RELATIONS between the Erris Fishermen’s Association and Shell E&P Ireland have broken down after the fishermen claimed the company damaged their equipment.
Iascairi Chois Chosta Iorrais Teo, which is formerly the Erris Inshore Fishermen’s Association, reached an agree-ment with Shell in 2008 and subsequent years to facilitate the laying of the controversial Corrib Gas pipeline. In a state-ment the fishermen say they are now meeting with “intran-sigence and non co-operation” from Shell. The agreement covered the laying of the main Corrib gas pipeline. Any other work to be done on or near the pipeline would necessitate a separate agreement with Iascairi Chois Chosta Iorrais Teo (ICCI), said the fisherman.
The fishermen claim that Shell insisted on carrying out the 2011 pipeline survey without any agreement with them, despite warnings that gear could be damaged, as happened in a similar survey in 2008.
“Our fears were realised on Friday, June 17, when Shell informed us that gear had been damaged. However, they continued with their survey against our wishes,” said ICCI in a statement.
At a meeting on Tuesday in the Broadhaven Bay Hotel, which Shell were requested but declined to attend, the fishermen decided unanimously that such “intransigence” could not be tolerated.
A further meeting was called on Thursday evening but Shell again declined to attend, according to the fishermen.

Chairman of ICCI, Eddie Diver, said the group will fulfill any legal obligations but will withdraw all other co-operation from the Corrib Gas project. Mr Diver said Shell is “refusing to meet their members”.
“They are trying to imply that we are unreasonable to want them to address a meeting when it was done twice or three times before. Why they won’t do it now, I don’t know,” said Mr Diver.
The Department of Agriculture, Marine and Food is being kept fully informed of the situation, the group said.
In a statement, Shell confirmed that a survey of the offshore pipeline was carried out last week. The company said the survey lasted six days and used one vessel.
“All marine users were notified by way of marine notice and the Erris fishermen’s organisations were informed of this survey in advance of this. The representatives of Iascairí Chois Chósta Iorrais Teo (ICCI) were also provided with the environmental management plan for this by the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources in advance of the survey and had the opportunity to comment on it directly. During the survey, a single string of fishing gear became entangled with the survey equipment and was cut free. ICCI and the owner of the gear were notified. Any damage to the gear has yet to be assessed,” the statement said.
Shell said it has since contacted the ICCI and is willing to meet this week.

Posted Date: 
3 July 2011