UP TO 40 local fishermen in Dingle held a protest in the early hours of this morning in order to block a Spanish trawler from landing fish.
The local community mounted a blockade by sitting or lying on the ground at the pier, preventing an agent from driving across the pier in a truck which would have loaded the fish caught on the trawler.
The fishermen had announced their intentions to block the arrival, and Gardaí were present when the Spanish-owned trawler arrived at the pier at approximately 4.30am this morning, Monday 20 April.
Gardaí attempted to negotiate with the protesters in order to let the truck through, but were unsuccessful, and the trawler departed from Dingle Harbour at 5.30am without having transferred the caught fish to the truck.
RTÉ reports that the catch was instead landed in Castletownbere in County Cork, with video journalist Seán Mac an tSíthigh capturing the scene in the early hours of this morning.
The Spanish agent has abandoned plans to land the catch in Dingle. The trawler is now leaving Dingle harbour and will land the fish in Castletownbere. The protest has been stood down, the Dingle fishermen say they are very pleased with the outcome. pic.twitter.com/yd4uILA2G0
— Seán Mac an tSíthigh (@Buailtin) April 20, 2020
The agent for trawler and truck, Spanish company Ricardo Ferriera, told RTÉ News that the protest was "disappointing" as the crew were adhering to the guidelines set by the Irish Government to allow their fishing to continue in Irish waters.
"We have completed all the relevant HSE Covid-19 paperwork and the designated zones were ready on the pier. It is four weeks since this crew left Spain to go fishing," he said.
"There is absolutely no risk of virus."
A spokesperson for the protest, local fisherman Mickey Hennessey, said they had "achieved our objective, which is to protect our town from coronavirus".
Saying the fishermen had no problems with foreign ships fishing in Dingle waters in normal times, he stated that "we just don't want them coming in here now while this crisis is happening."
"We don't know where these Spanish crews and these Spanish truck drivers have been.
"This isn't a fishing issue, this is a health issue".
He confirmed the protests would continue for the duration of the crisis.
The newest protest follows a similar blockade three weeks ago, in which locals blocked foreign fishermen from entering the town claiming they had previously been spotted not adhering to social distancing guidelines.
The organiser of the previous protest, Robert Brosnan, told Newstalk Breakfast at the time that they were protecting the community as "crews from Spain and France were moving through the town not keeping social distance, causing fear in the community".