Newly appointed DAERA minister Andrew Muir heard the ‘full and frank’ views of local fishermen and met with members of the Northern Ireland Fishing Harbour Authority (NIFHA) during a visit to Portavogie last week.

After the visit, Minister Muir said: “The fisheries sector is an integral part of the DAERA family, playing an essential role in the economy of Northern Ireland and putting food on our tables, and it is an unquestionable part of the fabric of our rural communities.

“Our local harbours in Co Down are important economic hubs along our coastline, and I was delighted to visit Portavogie to hear from the people on the ground, or in this case on the water, about the issues that matter to them the most.

“To meet and adapt to challenges and exploit the increasing opportunities from the blue economy, there is a need for investment in Northern Ireland’s harbour infrastructure. I am committed to ensuring these harbours modernise and contribute to the sustainability and decarbonisation of the fishing sector and local areas.”

Andrew Muir (right) meeting Portavogie and Ardglass fishermen, who shared their ‘full and frank’ views on what needs to be done to move things forward for the Northern Ireland industry, notably on access to crew.

NIFHA has been awarded 75% of the £3.6m cost of an upgrade to the current slipway facilities at Portavogie from the UK Seafood Fund.

Andrew Muir said: “I am happy that my department has already provided financial assistance towards the development costs associated with the UK Seafood Fund application, and we are committed to providing the 25% match-funding required to complete the investment by 31 March, 2025.

“Government needs to provide support with clear policies and other measures. I will shortly be considering a five-year strategic plan which will offer support along the lines available under previous EU programmes.”

Funding under the scheme will be targeted at enabling the industry to become more economically resilient and more sustainable, and supporting decarbonisation. It is hoped that the new scheme will open to applications this summer.

This story was taken from the latest issue of Fishing News. For more up-to-date and in-depth reports on the UK and Irish commercial fishing sector, subscribe to Fishing News here or buy the latest single issue for just £3.50 here

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