Fisheries Minister Edwin Poots MLA has today published the first stage of a report examining the opportunities to develop the fishing and seafood sector in Northern Ireland.
The Fishing and Seafood Development Programme (FSDP) is a strategic programme of work commissioned by DAERA in 2019. It aims to explore the challenges and opportunities facing the NI fishing and seafood sectors, including its infrastructure needs, so that these sectors may realise their full potential and provide a substantive evidence base for the long-term planning of sea fishing and seafood development.
Commenting on Stage One of the report Minister Poots said: “I am keen to build the foundations for a strong and prosperous fishing and seafood sector. The FSDP will aid my Department, in identifying the challenges and exploring the opportunities for the NI fishing and seafood sectors in the coming years.
“Stage One of the report identifies potential restrictions that might constrain the future development, profitability and safety of the fishing fleet.
“The Report notes that our fishery harbours, which have served us well in times past, may now be limiting fleet development as average vessel size in UK is increasing. Investment in harbour infrastructure is integral to safeguarding the future of the NI fishing fleet and remains a high priority for my Department. My officials continue to work with the NI Fishery Harbour Authority on this issue.”
Commenting on possible opportunities for NI fishermen Minister Poots added: “I am committed to the future success of the fishing and seafood sector and want to ensure that it is well placed to take advantage of the new opportunities following departure from the EU. There is potential to improve fisheries management and grow fishing opportunities in a sustainable way.
“In recent years many Irish Sea fish stocks have improved and most, including Nephrops and herring are now fished at Maximum Sustainable Yield levels. This stands us in good stead and I hope that further improvements in fisheries management will grow fish stocks further and result in a vibrant and prosperous fishing industry.
“The conclusions from the FSDP report will have to be updated in light of the outcome of talks on the future fisheries agreement with the EU.”