ERRIS fishermen have withdrawn cooperation with Shell over a failure to agree on how marine surveys are being conducted for the section of the pipeline in their fishing grounds.
Eventhough the group agreed compensation terms with the oil and gas multinational in 2008, they now say they will no longer cooperate with certain ongoing survey works because their fishing gear has been damaged on five occasions.
Iascairí Chois Chost Iorrias Teo (ICCI), formerly Erris Inshore Fishermen’s Association, represents 45 boat licensees and their crews, who fish in the seas around Broadhaven Bay.
Chairman, Eddie Diver said: “We are annoyed since we did cooperate with the project and drew up a legal agreement with Shell regarding conditions about the marine works. But some of our gear was damaged ten days ago, on June 17, during survey works and they continued to survey against our wishes.”
Mr Diver said the group spoke to Shell officials last March and offered to move gear out of the way if they gave notice of works but the officials would not agree to that.
The longtime chairman of ICCI confirmed a decision was made by the fishermen at a meeting in the Broadhaven Bay Hotel last week to ‘reluctantly withdraw cooperation‘ if the company did not agree to meet the members with 24 hours. Shell had been invited to the meeting but declined to attend, he said.
Mr Diver said that Shell was only willing to meet a number of delegates and not the entire group.
“We want to ensure that these survey are carried out properly because there will be raw gas at a very high pressure going through these pipes. We have informed the Department of the Marine about our concerns and it is up to them to legislate properly.”
A Shell statement said proper Marine Notices had been issued ahead of the survey works and that company officials were willing to meet representatives of the organisation this week.
It confirmed that during a six-day survey, using a single vessel, a single string of fishing gear became entangled with the survey equipment and was cut free. The vessel’s owner was notified and any damage to gear had yet to be assessed.
MEANWHILE, an impressive line-up of speakers is due to address a forum, in Inver community Centre next weekend, entitled ‘Ten Years on: Corrib Gas – Great gas for Whom?”
Speakers include writer and lecturer Harry Browne, Dr Kieran Allen (UCD) and leading economist and writer Colm Rapple.