Watersports Ban Galway- Galway Draft Bye Laws 2022

Watersports Ban Galway- Galway Draft Bye Laws 2022

6 November 2022
Petition to
Galway County Council (Galway County Council) and 39 others
Signatures: 5,546Next Goal: 7,500
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Why this petition matters

Started by Patrick Dunne

Watersports users please help save our beaches and sports in Galway.

Galway County Council released new draft bye-laws called "Draft Beach Bye Laws 2022" Link:

*Update*- Submission has been extended to before 4 pm on 25th November 2022 (Next Friday). Please keep signing and sharing.

In these new bye-laws, Galway county council is proposing a blanket ban to most watersports (except swimming) and be able to issue on-the-spot fines of €75 euro to anyone in breach of conditions of the bye-laws, and if found guilty in court a fine of up to €1,904.60.

Specifically Part 2: Prohibited Acts, Section (s):

No person shall wind surf on sail boards or kite-surf on kite boards or surf on a surf
board or use a canoe, kayak, dinghy, stand-up paddle board or water bike in close
proximity to bathers. 

The Council may at its discretion designate areas of any beach in and at which the use
of surf boards and/or kite boards and/or sail boards and/or canoes and kayaks and/or
dinghies and/or stand-up paddle boards and/or water bikes is restricted or prohibited

Galway is known for its beautiful coastline along the wild Atlantic way and is renowned among visitors and tourists alike for its beaches, sunsets, friendly locals and wild weather. We are lucky enough to get prevailing South-Westerly winds which make Galway the perfect spot for wind sports. And some Wind sports are amongst the fastest growing sports in the world at present and are great for peoples physical and mental health.

As an avid watersports enthusiast who has grown up in Galway I strongly oppose these draft bye laws prohibiting water sports and aiming to criminalise the prohibited sports.

The water should be available for everyone, and Galway County Council should be doing everything it can to promote watersports and boost tourism by using an all-inclusive approach. 

Other countries relish the opportunity to have water sports on their doorstep and support the local water community with competitions which gain national and international coverage, promoting the area, boosting tourism and allowing people access to new and exciting sports.

I grew up windsurfing in Rusheen Bay, Sailing in Galway Bay Sailing club, Paddle boarding in Salthill and now kitesurfing around the West Coast of Ireland. I also joined the R.N.L.I in Galway at the age of seventeen and continued as a lifesaving crew member in the UK when I moved over for University.

Most Windsurfers and Kitesurfers have 3rd party insurance through their national representing body due to the extreme nature of the sports and to ensure that everyone is safe on the water. 

After 10 years working on the frontline in a very busy city,  as a HCPC senior band 6 Paramedic in the National Health Service (NHS) United Kingdom without incident, I was assaulted 5 minutes from my home on a public beach by a swimmer whilst out trying to enjoy my sport.

Unfortunately on February 3rd 2022 I was verbally and physically assaulted by a swimmer whilst out kitesurfing at a local beach in Galway. This local swimmer justified his actions because he "has right of way in the water" and "I had no right to be there".

The incident was reported to the Gardai, and following an investigation by the Gardai, the Swimmer received a Formal Adult caution in the Local Garda Station by the Inspector.

I worry that the proposed draft laws will further exacerbate this divide between swimmers vs other watersports users. 

This creates an unnecessary conflict between swimmers and all other watersports users. This has the potential for further attacks on banned watersports users who should have every right to use the water and public beach like everyone else.

I welcome a proper consultation with Galway County Council and our national bodies. Windsurfing Ireland, Kitesurfing Ireland, Surfing Ireland, Sailing Ireland etc. 

Kitesurfing Ireland were not informed and no form of communication was received from Galway County Council to understand our sport or any of the other sports prohibited on the list. 

Galway currently has eight Blue flag beaches.

The Blue Flag Programme for beaches, marinas and tourism boats is run by the international, nongovernmental, non-profit organisation FEE (the Foundation for Environmental Education). The Blue
Flag Programme started in France in 1985. It has been implemented in Europe since 1987 and in
areas outside of Europe since 2001 when South Africa joined. Today, Blue Flag has become a truly
global Programme, with an ever-increasing number of countries participating in it. 

This ensures that people coming from other countries or locals alike know that certain criteria are met and upheld to be awarded blue flag beach status.

The blue flag status has become a highly recognised award worldwide which promotes high quality and works to bring together the tourism
and environmental sectors at local, regional and national levels. 

From their website and their own documentation around minimum criteria for the blue beach they state:

A beach must be accessible to all (regardless of age, gender, political views, religion) in order to be
eligible for Blue Flag accreditation.

Most importantly - Criterion 5. A map of the beach indicating different facilities must be displayed. 

It states in this section that where applicable zoning should be available on a pictogram or map on the beach for- zoning (swimming, surfing, sailing,
boating, etc.) where applicable.

And Criterion 6. A code of conduct that reflects appropriate laws and/or regulations governing the use
of the beach and surrounding areas must be displayed. 

And more specifically to Watersports

Criterion 30. There must be management of different users and uses of the beach so as to prevent
conflicts and accidents. Zoning for surfing, swimming, motor boats, jet skis etc.

It must be highlighted that this document is the MINUMUM  criteria for Blue Flag beach status.

Safe zoning is mentioned throughout for all sports users with designated zones.

At present, there is no zoning for any water user on any Galway Beaches. Unlike other blue flag beaches that have specific zoning for Swimmers, motor craft, Surfing, windsurfers/kitesurfers, jet skis, water skis.

The public has until before 4 pm on 25th November 2022 (Next Friday) to oppose these draft bye-laws for Galway. 
Please email - corpserv@galwaycoco.ie and customerservices@galwaycoco.ie 


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Signatures: 5,546Next Goal: 7,500
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