Gildernew meets Fishing Industry
Minister Michelle Gildernew MP, MLA has met with members of the Tri-Council Fisheries Working Group to discuss issues affecting the local fishing industry.
Speaking afterwards, the Minister said: “This has been a useful meeting, in which we discussed a range of matters impacting on the fishing industry here. We spent some time discussing the impacts that reduced fishing opportunities would have on the fishing businesses in Ardglass, Kilkeel and Portavogie in the year ahead. We also discussed the difficulties experienced during the negotiations at Brussels in December last.
“I assured the Working Group members that my Department and its scientific advisors had already begun to build the case to take to Brussels this December. I believe the future for Irish Sea Fisheries is to develop long-term management plans that will be accepted widely within the scientific community and which will provide a basis to determine the quotas in future.
“As I indicated recently to the Assembly, developing those plans is a top priority for me. Nephrops is of course our most important fishery and the priority here is to ensure that together with our partners in the South, we carry out the further work needed to establish a harvest ratio that represents an appropriate level of fishing consistent with a management objective of maximising the sustainable yield of nephrops.
“It is unfortunate that the process to develop a plan for Irish Sea herring experienced a setback recently. This was due to the unavailability of data from the 2009 commercial fishery but our scientists are working hard to develop a plan based on extended surveys that have been carried out in partnership with the industry over the last three years. This alternative approach may take longer than had been envisaged. We will still be pressing for an increase in the herring quota for 2011.”
During the meeting the Minister discussed issues surrounding the adaption of the fleet and prospects for future investment of the European Fisheries Fund. The Minister confirmed that she was looking forward to receiving the views of the Fisheries Forum about adaption of the fleet which she expected to receive during April.
The Minister also said that her Department was commissioning a post-project evaluation of the South Down Taskforce Programme and that this work would help with decisions on the scope and nature of further socio economic investments in the fishing villages.