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Greater all-Ireland co-operation needed to reverse decline in North’s fishing industry

31 May, 2007

South Down Assembly Member Cllr Willie Clarke, who recently participated in a debate in the Assembly in support of a motion calling for the appointment of a committee to oversee fishing in the Six Counties, believes greater all-Ireland co-operation is needed in order to revitalise the local seafood industry.

Mr Clarke continued:

"People working in Irish fishing must have their say on the future of the local seafood industry so it is vitally important this Assembly implements imaginative and workable ideas that can reverse the extremely regressive policies of successive British administrations.

"We must work together to improve the plight of hard pressed fishing communities here in the north of Ireland and priority must be given to developing an integrated, all-Ireland approach to deal with this issue.

"DARD should work more closely with its counterparts in the south in order to promote Irish seafood products and we need to market our produce on a national and international basis, in ways similar to countries such as Spain and France.

"The British Government has failed local fishing communities and we are faced with an industry that is on its knees because of successive quota restrictions and longer tie-up times.

"Clearly the north can benefit from closer co-operation with the 26 counties where strategic development is located within the wider context of rural development.

"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.

"Clearly however, the British Government's priority has been primarily focused on England, Scotland and Wales and the Welsh and Scottish Assemblies, recognise the importance of supporting their negotiating teams in Brussels, as of course does the Irish Government .The Executive here in the North must take control of this issue and fight for a better deal in Europe. For too long the six counties suffered because of the piece meal approach which has been adopted by successive British governments and we now need locally elected politicians working in partnership with each other on a north/south basis." ENDS

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