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Erris fishermen prepare for maritime protest over Corrib pipeline

The Mayo Advertiser
by Fiona McGarry
Erris fishermen concerned at the impact of the Corrib gas pipeline on water quality in Broadhaven Bay have carried out a series of “maritime exercises” in training for possible sea protests.
Members of the Erris Inshore Fishermen’s Association say they are still considering staging a sea blockade if Shell E&PI goes ahead with the pipeline which will have an outfall point outside the bay. Broadhaven Bay is a Special Area of Conservation, and the EIFA has expressed concerns to the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Community, Rural, and Gaeltacht Affairs over possible damage to fish stocks.
Last Wednesday, around a number of former Greenpeace activists from England and Wales joined members of the EIFA in what were described as “protest exercises”. Up to 20 local people joined in the event, which involved transfer of crews from the activist’s dinghies to the larger vessels of the fishermen. Eddie Divers, chairperson of the EIFA took part in the event, which was described as an opportunity for the Greenpeace activists to get to know the seas around Broadhaven Bay and to meet local fishermen. Pat O’Donnell of the EIFA told the Mayo Advertiser that fishermen felt they were not being listened to by Shell. He said fishermen had been reassured by the fact that such experienced activists were willing to show their solidarity with the people of Erris.
Mr O’Donnell said the EIFA was prepared to use its vessels to block Broadhaven Bay. “If Shell goes ahead with this pipeline, it will meet resistance,” he said. “There is no consent on land or in the sea,” he added.
The possibility of mass protest in the bay has not been ruled out by the EIFA. “Anyone with experience on the sea, we will consider allowing them to join us,” Mr O’Donnell said.
Meanwhile a public meeting on the Corrib gas project held this week in Belmullet was described by its organisers as “good natured and well-attended”.
The event at the Broadhaven Bay Hotel was organised and addressed by Shell to Sea’s John Monaghan of Rossport and Seán Harrington of Doohoma. Up to 200 people attended the meeting, which was described by Mr Monaghan as “a chance to put out some balanced information on the Corrib gas project, so that people can make up their own minds.” Issues discussed included water quality in Carrowmore Lake, which, Mr Monaghan said, was yielding differing readings on mineral content.
Among those who attended the meeting were Fianna Fáil Councillor Tim Quinn and Shell community liaison officer Oliver Murphy. Members of the Pro Mayo Gas Group also attended the meeting.
“We are encouraging people to get involved in educating themselves on the project,” Mr Monaghan said. “They don’t have to take our word for it, we want them to do their homework and make up their own minds.”
The issue of water quality in Carrowmore lake was also raised at this week’s meeting of the Mayo County Council. Director of services Peter Hynes said the council was not aware of any discrepancies between it own readings and those obtained by Bord na Móna. He spoke in response to Sinn Féin Councillor Gerry Murray who said there was “a degree of unrest” over the issue locally. Mr Hynes pointed out that all readings are available to the public and the issue is a permanent item on the agenda for meetings of the Belmullet area committee. Mr Hynes said he was “at a loss” over the differing readings, but said that he would ensure the matter was looked into.

Posted Date: 
16 March 2007 - 10:00pm