DAERA minister Edwin Poots has announced a funding package of £336,000 to support vessels operating in the Lough Neagh eel and scale fishery, in recognition of reduced market demand due to Covid-19 in 2020.
It brings the total support directed towards Northern Ireland’s fisheries sector throughout the pandemic to £3.4m, after £2.64m was allocated to the sea-fishing sector and a further £425,000 to support the aquaculture sector.
Eligible vessels will be able to apply for a proportion of income lost during May and June 2020, when the fishery was closed, and during the voluntary tie-up period between July and October 2020, put in place to reduce landings in light of limited market demand.
Minister Poots said: “The fishing sector on Lough Neagh has been particularly hard-hit by the severe market disruption in Europe by the Covid-19 pandemic. The closure of many markets and disruption of established distribution channels, particularly to restaurants and the foodservice industry internationally, has seen market demand and sale prices drop substantially. It is vital to give the Lough Neagh fishery a means of matching supply with demand and to ensure the long-term viability and sustainability of an industry which is very important to the local economy.