McIlveen meets with Manx fisheries minister to boost collaboration

Fisheries Minister Michelle McIlveen and Isle of Man Minister for Environment, Food and Agriculture Geoffrey Boot
Fisheries Minister Michelle McIlveen and Isle of Man Minister for Environment, Food and Agriculture Geoffrey Boot

Fisheries Minister Michelle McIlveen has met with her Manx counterpart Geoffrey Boot to explore areas for future collaboration and to raise important issues relating to Northern Ireland fishermen.

Among the issues raised was that of Northern Ireland scallop fishermen who failed to qualify for the Isle of Man scallop fishing licence. The licences, introduced in November 2016, were restricted to boats that had regularly fished the area from 2011 to 2015. Several NI vessels failed to qualify.

Miss McIlveen said: “King and queen scallops remain an important component of the Northern Ireland catch and this is an area where I hope we can cooperate to ensure sustainability. We are keen to learn from the Isle of Man initiatives on scallop broodstock areas with a view to establishing similar initiatives locally.”

Miss McIlveen also highlighted the need to develop a more coordinated approach to Irish Sea science between Northern Ireland, Wales and the Isle of Man. The aim is to establish common assessment for inshore fish stocks under national management and to improve integration of marine science.

She said: “I want to see a more coordinated approach for Irish Sea science between our departments and Wales. I am pleased that AFBI is to arrange a scoping meeting in early 2017 involving Bangor University, the Welsh and Isle of Man governments.”

Other issues discussed yesterday were research projects, including scallop enhancement, and collaboration in Pan-Irish Sea queen scallops, Isle of Man prawn fishery and enforcement.

Miss McIlveen added: “It is important to develop strong relationships with our neighbours and to work towards introducing sustainable fisheries policies that are of benefit to all.”

The meeting at the Tynwald in Douglas also included a tour of the Isle of Man government and is an important step in developing a good working relationship with Mr Boot and his department’s officials.

Mr Boot said: “Fisheries is a traditional and economically important industry for both the Isle of Man and Northern Ireland and we have a common interest in managing and better understanding fish stocks to ensure sustainability.

“Today’s meeting helped us further develop a mutual understanding of the issues surrounding fishing in the Irish Sea and I hope to continue a positive relationship with Minister McIlveen.”