Fisheries Minister, Michelle McIlveen has visited the three main County Down fishing ports to meet with key representatives and to discuss future support for the Northern Ireland fishing industry.
In Portavogie, Minister McIlveen met with members of the NI Fish Producers Organisation to discuss a range of issues impacting the local fleet before travelling to Ardglass Harbour, the third largest port, to meet with the NI Fishery Harbour Authority and view some of the recent DAERA supported investments as well as hearing about plans for future developments.
Minister McIlveen said: “I am delighted that my Department has been able to support significant infrastructural investments at Ardglass, Kilkeel and Portavogie harbours in recent years and has firm plans in place to continue to support port authorities to ensure facilities remain appropriate for the needs of the local fishing fleet and the complementary industries associated with it.
“It was very useful to meet with industry representatives to hear their views on a wide range of issues that impact our fishing community in these challenging and uncertain times. After our discussions, I am sure that we share the desire for a more confident industry that is prepared, and able, to invest in its future,” added Minister McIlveen.
At Kilkeel, the largest fishing port, Sea-Source (ANIFPO LTD) made a presentation to the Minister about the Kilkeel Strategic Partnership’s proposals for an ambitious development of the harbour.
The Minister also took the opportunity to visit Kilkeel Seafoods to see the UK’s largest scampi producing factory in operation.
She also announced that the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF) will open shortly, adding that she was fully aware of the benefits the fund can deliver to the local industry and wider fishing community.
The Minister said: “I will be inviting applications for the £15.5million programme in September. My officials are already hosting a number of EMFF information events to promote the opportunities it provides and to demonstrate the new application system.”