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Eels on menu for Ministers at Fishery

28 February, 2008

Eels were the dish of the day for Sinn Féin deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness and Sinn Féin Agriculture and Fisheries Minister Michelle Gildernew, when they visited Europe's largest wild commercial eel fishery today.

The two Ministers toured the Toomebridge fishery which is controlled by Lough Neagh Fishermen's Co-operative Society as well as sampling some of the eels.

The fishery, managed by former parish priest Rev Oliver P Kennedy, catches some 400-500 tonnes of yellow eels each year and supports over 100 fishing boats, each with a two-man crew.

Agriculture and Rural Development Minister Michelle Gildernew MP MLA described the visit as worthwhile.

"Both our tour of the fishery and our meeting with Father Kennedy have been interesting and informative.

"We discussed the work of the co-operative and the issues currently facing it including the scope for assistance to the company under the European Fisheries Fund."

Keen angler, deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness, said he was impressed with the facilities.

"As well as supplying eels to London's famous Billingsgate fish market, the fishery provides an income for almost 300 local families. The eels caught each morning are frozen and exported to London and Europe where they are considered a delicacy.

"The majority are sent to Holland where they are smoked before being served in homes and restaurants." ENDS

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