SDLP MP Margaret Ritchie has called on DARD Minister Michelle O’Neill to indicate when the European Maritime Fisheries Fund will be launched.
In a statement, Ms Ritchie (pictured) said: “The fishing ports of Ardglass and Kilkeel are pivotal to the local economy. There is a continuing growing need to underpin and sustain the onshore and off-shore fishing sector through adequate fish species quota allocations on an annual basis as well as building up and developing the infrastructure at the harbours and investing in the industries, businesses, jobs and new employment opportunities which support and will continue to solidify the fishing industry in the south Down ports.
“A major contribution to developing the infrastructure and the local economy in Ardglass and Kilkeel is the need to ensure that both harbours have the capacity to facilitate larger vessels and that there is no displacement of fishing effort to other parts of this island.
“For this reason, there is a need for capital projects to be included in the European Maritime Fisheries Fund which has yet to be launched by DARD.”
She added: “I would urge the Minister for Agriculture and Rural Development – a Department which has responsibility for Fisheries to ensure that the important fund is launched at the earliest possible opportunity.”