The public consultation period on Galway County Council's controversial beach bye-laws has now concluded, with over 1,000 written submissions received.

In addition, more than 6,000 people have signed an online petition against the proposed measures.

They include bans on dogs at certain times and the restriction of leisure activities like windsurfing, kayaking and paddle boarding "in close proximity" to swimmers.

Interest groups say the bye-laws effectively amount to a ban on water sports across 24 of the county's beaches.

Dr Barra Nevin heads the ZoneGalwayBeaches campaign group.

"We're delighted with the public support for our campaign, not just locally but from governing bodies nationally who have produced written submissions," he said.

"We're talking about all the outdoor water pursuits organisations coming together to fight an issue of national importance. This is not just confined to Galway.

"There are two pillars regarding their submissions, there's the wording of the document, particularly with regard to the 'close proximity' clause and also with regard to local zoning, which we see as the number one safety measure the council need to carry out in relation to our beaches.

"Leaving aside equality and rights of access to our waters to pursue healthy activities, this is a blue flag issue and we need to pull up our socks and get on with zoning."

Dr Nevin cited Lahinch in Co Clare as a model example of zoning and shared access between swimmers and outdoor pursuits enthusiasts.

"There is no proper management plan in place here in Galway. We need designated zoning for swimmers, surfers, windsurfers and motor craft," he added.

"Everyone loves the water and there's a crossover between swimmers and outdoor pursuits. Nobody is disputing the need for bye-laws for safety purposes, but first we need beaches to be looked at individually for zoning purposes."

Dr Nevin said he looked forward to engaging positively with the council over the sharing of water and said he believed there was goodwill there.

The public consultation period on the draft bye-laws had been extended by two weeks following the scale of the public response.

Speaking previously, Conamara councillor Eileen Mannion said there had been confusion over the wording of the currently drafted bye-laws, which state that participation in water sports "in close proximity" to bathers was not allowed.

She said there were similar bye-laws in place in Mayo, Clare and other counties.

"This is all part of the public consultation process. We will get a report back on the submissions and we will get a new set of draft bye-laws and we will study those," Ms Mannion said.

"I want to assure people that there will in no way be a ban on water sports in Co Galway. They are of huge importance to our local community and of huge importance to the tourism industry.

"We have these wonderful beaches on the Wild Atlantic Way and it was never our intention to ban water sports."