Ritchie stresses importance of NI fishing ports
Speaking during the further stage of the Fisheries Bill in the House of Lords, Margaret Ritchie said: “The enactment of the Fisheries Bill in the autumn of this year will ensure that funding will be provided for the regeneration of the infrastructure at fishing harbours like Ardglass and Kilkeel – this assurance was given to me by the Fisheries Minister, Lord Gardener of Kimble in the House of Lords this week.
“I told the Fisheries Minister in the House of Lords this week that fishing is the lifeblood of the local economy in the coastal communities of Ardgass and Kilkeel. Those involved in the sea fishing segment in County Down – both in the catching and processing sectors - support sustainable fishing and possess a commitment to protect the natural environment. They want fishing to be a leader in the food system; they want to ensure that people have accessibility to a good quality product in the various fish species which they catch. Above all, they want people to be able to earn a livelihood from the local sea fish industry. The legislation does provide a framework for future fisheries management and should enable the industry to grow and develop.
“We all must fight to ensure that the Co. Down coastal sea fishing industry is economically viable; providing jobs in the catching and processing sectors. For that to happen the fishing harbours at Ardglass and Kilkeel need to be deepened to enable larger pelagic boats to come in and land their catch – part of which can be processed locally in both ports. To maintain momentum, growth and further development in these harbours an immediate decision needs to be made on the development of both harbours with funding provided at an early opportunity to undertake the much needed infrastructural work. That’s the opportunity provided by the enactment of the Fisheries Bill later this year. That’s the undertaking given to me by the Fisheries Minister on the floor of the House of Lords this week. I will continue to work with the Fisheries Ministers and the DAERA Department in Northern Ireland to ensure that much needed fishing harbour developments take place.”