Upper Bann MP David Simpson, member of the UK EFRA Committee has spoken of the huge potential the Northern Ireland fishing industry has within the global market.
Mr Simpson was speaking following a meeting with the senior management of Sea Source, Kilkeel Harbour, to discuss the challenges and barriers facing the growth of the industry.
Commenting Mr Simpson stated: “Since being appointed to the EFRA Committee earlier this year, I commenced a series of meetings with representatives of the agri-foods industry to determine how best we can utilise the UK Government to reap greater benefits for our farmers and fishermen.
“The meeting with Sea Source was an opportunity for them to directly communicate their concerns, and it was an opportunity for me to see at first hand how the industry operates on a day to day basis. Right along the shoreline of our province, world class stock is being brought in, processed and distributed to consumers around the world. It is vital that this industry is supported by a pro-active Government who have a similar vision for fishermen across the UK.
“In Northern Ireland, consumers have an improving mindset to buy local, however, this attitude is not reflected in the sale of our seafood within the local economy. We need sustainable fisheries that are encouraged by local retailers and consumers.
“Despite the huge potential we have, there are numerous challenges that are effecting the growth of this industry. It is vital that the industry has strong leadership and a professional vision to ensure the best outcomes for our local fishing harbours.
“Bureaucratic pressures from the EU have hindered growth and I pledge to use my position within the Westminster EFRA Committee to advance the concerns of those working at the heart of the fishing trade. I look forward to future discussions with the industry as we seek to grow our fisheries into a greater asset for Northern Ireland.”