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Commercial Fishing    
The Fleet May 2008 prawns prawns

An aerial view of the fleet as of May 2008

Prawns in their cage harvest

Fishing Fleet
In the start of this new millennium the fleet in Castletownbere comprised of about 70 local trawlers and 30 inshore boats working the harbour and the bays and over 100 other trawlers using the port. These other trawlers originate from other Irish Ports and EU Countries. Damien Turner's Trawler the "Fiona Patricia" that is based in Castletownbere, is the only Irish fishing trawler, which has qualified the EU Hygiene Standard. New fishing boats are arriving in Castletownbere to replace decommissioned fishing boats.

Fishing History

3 local trucking companies work out of the port in Castletownbere. They transport fish all over the EU.
East European factory ships
Berehaven Harbour, adjacent to Castletownbere has been the base for up to 60 ships from Eastern Europe every spring. They purchase mackerel and blue whiting from the Irish, English and Scottish fishing boats. Up to 5,000 crew can be based on all of the ships.
Safety at sea
All seafaring has been improved since the arrival of the new lifeboat in Castletownbere which compliments the already existing Cliff Rescue Service. BIM have also built a new training centre on the pier to train crew, skippers and all sea-going people on various methods of safety at sea.
Fish Farming
Fish farming also takes place in Beara, with salmon reared in cages in Berehaven Harbour and scallops and oysters which are reared from seed in trays laid out on the tidal area.
Celtic Sea Mussels
Celtic Sea Mussels are based in Dinish Island, Castletownbere and harvests LITHOTHAMRIUM CALCARCUM or calcified seaweed from Berehaven Harbour and this is then processed on Dinish Island.
Fish Processing
Fish processing is carried out on Dinish Island, Castletownbere. With over 130 different fish products being produced.
Sea Angling
Anglers also have the choice of going deep sea angling.You can fish in Kenmare Bay or Bantry Bay or just watch the fish being landed in Castletownbere. Please enquire in the Castletownbere Tourist Office about the availability of sea angling boats.
Inshore Fishing - an age old tradition
The bays and harbours adjacent to the Bere Coastline are ideal for inshore fishing with small inshore fishing boats fishing scallops, crabs, lobsters and shrimp.
Harvesting the bounty of the shoreline is an age-old tradition on the Beara Peninsula. Over the centuries generations of people have picked shellfish along the shore. The lunar cycle which regulates the tides greatly influences the availability of scallops, cloisíns, mussels, clams, cockles, sea urchins, oysters and periwinkles.
Seaweeds too also offer a valuable source of trace elements and minerals as a foodstuff or as a natural fertiliser on the land. Carraigín moss and duillisk are still used to thicken and flavour puddings and stews. And seaweed is still collected and coral sand dredged to fertilise the soil.
In the wintertime inshore fishing formed a valuable supplementary income to many small farmers. In small boats just off the shoreline scallops were caught by pulling a dredge behind the boat. On frosty mornings when the water was as still as glass and the moon was full they also used a method called 'shading' which involved one or two men in a boat, one man standing in the prow with a long timber handle about 20 foot long and steel round plate on the bottom like a large horseshoe with a small net attached. When the fisherman looked down through the crystal clear waters and spotted a scallop on the bottom he would scoop it into his 'badóg' and draw it up into the boat.


The development of Castletownbere fishing port. This is the peninsula's principle town. It is the largest whitefish port in Ireland. Berehaven being the second largest, safest natural harbour in the world, it is a safe anchorage for yachts and is also ideal for all water sports, from sea angling to windsurfing. Visitors to Castletownbere docks can see a multitude of fish species ranging from crab to tuna being landed daily. Fresh seafood is also served in restaurants all over the Beara peninsula. You can also purchase fresh fish in the fish shops in Castletownbere.

The Fleet

Dawn Ross

Russian Factory Ships

Summer was the season for fishing lobsters, crayfish, shrimp and crabs. This method involved spreading a chain of pots along the seabed. These were attached to each other and to a buoy for identification purposes.
Fish farming has been introduced on the Beara coastline in the last 15 years. Salmon are reared in cages suspended in the water. Mussels are grown on long 'stockings' hanging from floating barrels. As previously mentioned scallops and oysters are also reared from seed in trays laid out in a tidal area.
When anglers decided to go fishing off the rocks, they would go down to the rocky shoreline at low tide and reach with their hand underneath the rock and pull out a crab. This crab was then used for bait.

Factory Ships

Russian Factory Ships in Berehaven, used to be a common sight in the Spring of each year

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