Diane Dodds MEP was accompanied by William Irwin MLA, the Chair of the Assembly’s Agriculture and Rural Development Committee during a recent visit to the fishing industry at Kilkeel harbour.
During their visit Mrs Dodds and Mr Irwin visited ‘Sea-Source’, a fish and shellfish processing factory owned by local fishermen, where following a tour of a production line for scallops a meeting was held with local fishing industry representatives.
The DUP’s MEP who is a member of the European Parliament’s Fisheries Committee and Mr. Irwin discussed a range of issues with industry representatives, including continuing problems with cod and the imminent introduction of the EU’s landing obligation.
The DUP representatives also received an update on progress with the proposal to construct a new outer harbour at Kilkeel, designed to reinforce the entire economy in Kilkeel and South Down.
Mrs Dodds MEP said: “There is no denying the challenges faced by our fishing industry and I have again written to the Northern Ireland Minister on these issues. At the same time we need to find ways of encouraging fishermen such as those involved in the ‘Sea-Source’ project to maximise the return from their catches.”
Mr Irwin MLA said: “The commercial fishing industry is an important part of our rural economy. It was interesting for me to hear today that in some ways those involved in the industry feel neglected in comparison to other parts of the agri-food industry in Northern Ireland.
“It would seem logical that as we progress a food marketing strategy for Northern Ireland that our fishing industry forms an important part of that project, so as the valuable catches I have seen today can be promoted both domestically in Northern Ireland and across the world.”