The Green Party has been campaigning for the safety and lives of young migrant workers along the coastline from the abuse and exploitation of gang masters.
It was recently highlighted that up to sixteen young migrant workers were camped out on Guns Island whilst they laboured everyday for two weeks collecting winkles and cockles of the coastal rocks.
GREEN Cllr Cadogan Enright said, “The safety of the migrant workers is our primary concern. We have witnessed how up to four workers are making their way across a dangerous stretch of water from Guns Island to the shore in a small dingy with no life jackets. This is not safe given the half Kilometre of choppy water between Guns Island and the mainland – especially when laden down with heavy bags of shell fish. The last thing we wish to see is another tragic loss of life along our coast.”
“We have sent photographs to the Gangmasters Licensing Authority showing them the danger to the young workers. We managed to record the license plate number of the people carrier used to transport the workers which we also submitted to the Gangmasters Licensing Authority. We have also been in contact with the Health and Safety Executive who in turn contacted the Coastguard.”
Cllr Enright pointed out that,” The Green Party in Down District has had a long standing campaign to protect inter-tidal species such as cockles and periwinkles from over exploitation. There has been a sharp decrease in the number of cockles and winkles along the coast which shows the effects of over harvesting. We cannot allow people to take unsustainable quantities of shellfish from the fragile ecosystem, along the coast, and I have been seeking for proper enforcement and regulations on this issue.”
“These creatures form an important part of the food chain for wildlife in coastal areas and the periwinkles are not only being harvested, but the stones under which they grow are being left overturned which results in immature shell fish drying out and dying. This interrupts the natural life-cycle of these sea creatures and diminishes the chances of the population recovering,” said Cllr Enright.
Cllr Enright said, “I have raised this issue with the Strangford Lough Management Advisory Committee and the Green Party have made a submission to the new Wildlife Order on this subject.”
The Green Party believes that local families should be able to collect these sorts of inter-tidal species for personal use and also local licensed fishermen, so long as it is carried out in a sustainable way.
“We oppose the strip mining of beaches especially in such cases as Guns Island were we see disregard for the sustainability and biodiversity of our sensitive Lough and the complete lack of concern for young peoples lives,” concluded Cllr Enright.