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Fisheries Minister Edwin Poots MLA has published the findings of a major report regarding the investment needs of the fishing and seafood sector in Northern Ireland.

The report was produced by the Fishing and Seafood Development Programme (FSDP), which was established by the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) to conduct a strategic review of the opportunities for developing the sea fishing and seafood sectors in NI as a whole, including the potential role of new public investment in infrastructure.

The report focuses on recommendations in relation to capital investment at the main fishery harbours and highlights a number of challenges and opportunities for the wider industry that could be addressed through a future fisheries financial support scheme.

Recommendations include;

  • Enhancing capacity at Ardglass to provide security for fishing and processing businesses.
  • Development of Kilkeel as a potential Irish Sea hub for the fishing and maritime economy by increasing port capacity and shore side facilities.
  • Investment in the Portavogie harbour estate to allow it to take advantage of future “Blue Economy” opportunities.
  • Creating conditions resulting in investment in more modern fuel efficient vessels with low emissions and better facilities for crews.
  • Further reducing the environmental impact of the fishing fleet
  • Adopting novel technology to expand marine aquaculture
  • Taking advantage of EU exit opportunities to build exports of high value seafood to the EU and further afield.
  • Innovation to develop higher value seafood products and make better use of waste products.
  • Investment in knowledge and skills to support the maritime economy.
  • Upgrading of small ports and harbours to support the inshore fishing sector.

Commenting on the report Minister Poots said: “I am hopeful that the publication of the FSDP report marks the beginning of a new chapter in the history of the fishing industry here. The report highlights the considerable investment that is required to help the industry adapt to the challenges it faces and grasp the opportunities presented following the United Kingdom’s exit from the European Union.

“We need to build a stronger and more resilient fishing and seafood industry that can adapt to change. Of course this will not be easy but I hope that with government and industry working together we can build new infrastructure, become more prosperous, improve the marine environment and enhance our reputation as suppliers of quality sustainable seafood.

“My Department will be engaging with stakeholders to discuss the findings of the report over the next few weeks and I hope that we can proceed shortly with the next phase of work towards harbour investment. Later this year we will also be consulting on plans for a future fisheries fund to address the wider needs of the fishing industry.”

The Report can be downloaded at https://www.daera-ni.gov.uk/publications/fsdp