Recently, Deputy Broughan wrote to the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed, regarding the reported proposals for dredging at Howth Harbour. Deputy Broughan raised a number of important questions with the Minister as there were media reports that some local public representatives were invited to a briefing at Howth Harbour on the plans but that Deputies weren’t invited or sent on a briefing. Minister Creed informed Deputy Broughan that officials and engineers from his Department did meet with the Planning and Management personnel from Fingal County Council in early March. Fingal also facilitated that these officials give a verbal update to councillors at the end of their meeting on March 6th.
Deputy Broughan has been asking the respective Ministers for Agriculture, Food and the Marine about the dredging of Howth Harbour for a number of years now. Howth is one of the six designated State-owned Fishery Harbour Centres and is a busy and well-functioning harbour. A recent reply to a Parliamentary Question showed that in 2015, 2016 and 2017 there were 735, 1,303 and 992 fish landings respectively. The sum of value of those 735 landings in 2015 was almost €12m, in 2016 it was just over €15.6m and in 2017 was almost €11.5m.
I have asked the Minister and his predecessor about Howth Fishery Harbour Centre for the past two or three years. Silting of over two metres has occurred. The former Minister made some plans and €150,000 was made available for the site investigation works as part of the development programme. We heard that these were finished at the end of March. I remember asking the former Minister before the general election about when action would be taken. We need a foreshore licence and the dumping programme. When is the Minister going to do it?
Last year, Deputy Broughan began making representations to the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Simon Coveney, on behalf of the Howth Harbour Action Group on the need for the urgent dredging of Howth Harbour. Since Deputy Broughan’s re-election to the 32nd Dáil he has requested an update on the status of funding for an urgent dredging programme at the important, working harbour.
Howth is one of the most beloved and visited seaside towns in Dublin and Ireland and one of the country’s six national working fishery harbours. It is also the premier fishery port on the east coast with a synchro lift and repair yard. Tourism to Howth port and peninsula has increased greatly, with as many as 2,000 visitors per day and as many as 750,000 visitors per annum. Howth is an historical area, which was recognised as a trading port in the medieval era and was the port of Dublin in the early 19th century. It has many great working fishery and marine leisure traditions and is also famed for delicious white fish, when in quota, and Dublin Bay prawns caught off this picturesque part of Dublin Bay. The peninsula also has had a special amenity area for two decades and is part of the new Dublin Bay UNESCO biosphere reserve, which I proposed.
In a Dáil debate tonight, Deputy Broughan has called on the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Simon Coveney, to urgently provide funding for dredging of Howth Harbour. Howth Harbour is an economically important working harbour used by fishing trawlers, by many leisure groups and enjoyed by over 500,000 tourists visiting the area each year.