OPPOSITION TO the Corrib gas project has moved to sea with a protest by north Mayo fishermen continuing today at Ballyglass pier west of Belmullet.
The protest by the Erris Inshore Fishermen's Association (EIFA) is over plans by Shell EP Ireland to begin laying the gas project's offshore pipeline before reaching any agreement on the gas refinery's controversial discharge pipe.
Some 30 boats and up to 100 fishermen from Killala, Belderrig, Blacksod, Porturlin, Frenchport and Rinroe moved into Broadhaven Bay at noon yesterday as a "show of solidarity".
Shell says it has statutory consents for the discharge and offshore pipelines. A small Garda presence and two Garda rigid inflatables monitored the protest.
The Inshore Fishermen's Association has called on the Government to protect its rights to traditional fishing grounds, following a request by Shell EP Ireland for "co-operation" in laying the offshore pipe between the gas field and a landfall at Glengad.
Shell intends to lay the separate discharge pipe from the refinery into Broadhaven Bay. It said it looked forward to discussions with fishermen on the issue.
Pat O'Donnell, one of the skippers involved in the protest, said that Shell has "not been listening to us for the last eight years".
"Let the Minister for Justice and the Government protect our rights now the way they brought in the gardaí to protect the workers on the gas refinery," Mr O'Donnell said. If Shell wished to remove his crab pots from the pipeline route, it would need a court order, he said.
Eddie Diver, EIFA chairman, said that the protest had "put the lie to Shell spin that the fishermen of north Mayo are not united".
"We will co-operate if the conditions are correct," said Mr Diver. "We cannot accept the location of the outflow pipe with its toxic, heavy metals."
The Irish Times