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Fishing Industry needs all-Ireland response

22 May, 2007

Sinn Fein Spokesperson on the Fishing Industry, South Down MLA Willie Clarke has said that 'people working in the Irish fishing industry must have their say on the future of the local seafood industry'.

Speaking in the Assembly today Mr Clarke said:

"People working in the Irish fishing industry must have their say on the future of the local seafood industry and this Assembly must bring forward imaginative and workable ideas that can reverse the extremely regressive policies of successive British administrations. It is vitally important we work together to improve the plight of hard pressed fishing communities here in the north of Ireland.

"We need to examine ways of developing an integrated, all-Ireland approach to fishing on the island of Ireland otherwise it will be impossible to reverse the dramatic decline of the seafood industry not only here in the north. We need to work with the authorities in the south and look at ways of promoting the Irish seafood industry and marketing our produce on a national and international basis in ways similar to countries such as Spain and France.

"In my own constituency of South Down, the decision to allocate fishing towns and villages such as Kilkeel, Annalong and Ardglass priority rights from the Integrated Development Fund, and the setting up of a steering group which is representative of local councils and the fishing industry, were positive initiatives and a step in the right direction but much more needs to be done.

"Strategic alliances will succeed in promoting a coherent action plan and are essential in order for the industry to develop.

"There needs to be greater emphasis on the protection or conservation of stocks to ensure the longer term sustainability of the industry, particularly the whitefish fleet. Fleet renewable subsidies in the South have attracted critical comparison from the North's fishing industry and many of the representatives who have participated in negotiations in Brussels viewed fleet renewal as an essential element of fleet restructuring.

"Fish are a renewable resource and one for which there is an increasing demand from consumers, the future for the industry should therefore be extremely positive.

"The Welsh and Scottish Assemblies, recognise the importance of supporting their negotiating teams in Brussels, as of course does the Irish Government and this Assembly must take control of this issue and fight for a better deal in Europe." ENDS

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