Environment Committee Fishes for Evidence in Kilkeel

Synopsis: The Northern Ireland Assembly Environment Committee visited Kilkeel Harbour this week to find out more about the challenges faced by the fishing industry in Northern Ireland.

Session: 2012/2013

Date: 07 September 2012

Reference: ENV 01/12/13

The Northern Ireland Assembly Environment Committee visited Kilkeel Harbour this week to find out more about the challenges faced by the fishing industry in Northern Ireland.

Committee Members were invited to Kilkeel by the Anglo-North Irish Fish Producers Organisation (ANIFPO) who gave evidence to the Committee to inform its report on the upcoming Marine Bill. During the visit, the Committee met with local trawler owners and fish processors to hear first-hand about how the industry works, the barriers they face and what regulation will mean for them.  

Committee Chairperson Anna Lo MLA, said, “Committee Members were delighted to visit Kilkeel and to be given the opportunity to hear more about the thriving local fishing industry, the pressures currently faced by those working in the sector and the contribution they make to the Northern Ireland economy. Our discussions were directly relevant to the Marine Bill and the Committee will be taking on board and seriously considering the concerns highlighted by all of those we met.

As part of its Report findings, the Committee has already recommended an amendment to the Bill which will require Government to take social, cultural and economic factors into account before designating marine conservation zones. Those we spoke to today acknowledged the value of this recommendation”

Anna Lo continued:  “Fishing industry representatives emphasised to Members that they remain concerned that issues such as the impact of displacing fishing activity on surrounding waters will not be adequately addressed. Those we spoke to noted that it was crucial that those involved in the industry are at the centre of all marine conservation zone discussions.

“The Committee agrees that it makes perfect sense that the local fishing industry is given every opportunity to participate in the process of designating marine conversation zones. We are after all talking about the livelihoods of people, all of whom are key contributors to the local economy. As it stands the Marine Bill already requires the Department of the Environment to consult widely but the Committee will revisit this particular issue of consultation in light of what we have heard during our visit. “

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