THE safety of swimmers is being put at risk by dangerous crab traps in Dublin Bay, a TD warned today.
Fine Gael's Terence Flanagan called for an immediate investigation by Fingal County Council, the Central Fisheries Board and gardai.
Mr Flanagan accused "commercial bait suppliers" of laying items like car tyres and discarded bonnets on the foreshore at Sutton Creek to catch crabs.
Some 450 tyres were counted in the "highly ecologically sensitive area" last week.
"Sutton Creek is part of the North Dublin Bay Special Area of Conservation (SAC) and the bay is used for recreational uses such as water sports, swimming and dinghy sailing," Mr Flanagan said.
The tyres are being held down by steel bars "which pose a serious health and safety concern to all users of the bay."
They are also "polluting the water content as they deteriorate," Mr Flanagan said.
He added: "I would like to congratulate the Howth/Sutton Community Council who brought this issue to public attention and whose members have removed many of the reinforcing bars."
The community council said it recently became "aware of the scale and practices of people involved in commercial trapping of crabs".
"Fishermen have used this beach as a source of bait for generations, digging for worms and catching crabs hiding under seaweed around rocks, without diminishing the amount of food available to the wildlife or adversely affecting the recreational users.
"However, commercial bait suppliers are laying traps for crabs by dumping waste materials on the beach (concrete blocks, steel pipes, car components, and other scrap steel parts) as well as laying lines of car tyres held down by steel reinforcing bars, all designed to entice crabs to hide under.
"Apart from the legality or otherwise of dumping scrap materials in an environmentally sensitive area, the scale of trapping (450 tyres counted last week) may constitute a threat to the ecological balance necessary to maintain the present bird population."
The "steel reinforcing bars projecting from the lines of tyres are capable of causing serious injury".
Once the tide has covered these bars and lifted the surrounding seaweed, they are invisible, the community body said.
"The Howth/Sutton Community Council has removed many of the reinforcing bars ... but are appealing to all authorities responsible for the ecology and public safety of Sutton Creek to investigate the practice of crab trapping in this sensitive area."
They want the commercial operators to carry out their activities "within acceptable limits and without creating hazards for recreational users".