An Garda Síochána and Revenue Customs Service have today relaunched the Coastal Watch maritime initiative in the Galway Division targeting the supply and transport of illegal drugs via Irish waters and along the 500km of coastline in the West.
This multi-agency initiative is primarily aimed at detecting and preventing the importation of illegal drugs, but also highlights the importance of vigilance among from coastal communities and the wide range of businesses and groups that operate at sea, and along the West Coast and its harbours.
Coastal Watch was first established over three decades ago with the objective of preventing the Ireland’s West coast being used for the importation of illegal drugs. Regular patrol of the coastline forms an overarching element of the operational plan, as does raising awareness among coastal communities and landowners, as well as those that are at sea for commercial and leisure purposes.
Coastal Watch aims to highlight suspicious or unusual activity such as:
- Packages floating in the sea, on beach or hidden close to the shoreline
- Crew making landings in remote areas
- Unusual objects at sea or ashore such as buoys or signalling devices
- Possible unauthorised landings by foreign vessels
- Merchant shipping at anchor close to land or islands
- Ships away from their normal shipping lanes
- Ships signalling ashore or being met by small craft
- Vessels operating at night without lights.
Speaking at the launch event in Clifden, Co. Galway Chief Superintendent Gerry Roche said, "Gardaí across the Galway Division, together with our partners in Revenue and the Irish Naval Service are refocusing the Coastal Watch initiative with the aim of preventing Galway’s coastal area, which spans some 500km, from being used to import illegal drugs into Ireland.
"Renewing Coastal Watch demonstrates An Garda Síochána’s ongoing commitment to fulfilling the objectives of our Drug Detection Strategy and tackling the sale and supply of illegal drugs at local, national and international levels.
"Recent seizures of large quantities of cocaine along Irish coastline demonstrate that this initiative is more important than ever.
"The public’s assistance in alerting Gardaí to any suspicious activity along the coastline helps us to combat this illegal activity.”