Fisheries minister Edwin Poots has announced progress towards a multi-million-pound investment in Northern Ireland’s three key fishing harbours.

The minister welcomed the latest development, describing it as ‘an important first step’ to further develop the proposals to a stage where the ‘necessary approvals and finance to transform our fishery harbours’ can be secured.

“Our fishing vessels and seafood processing industries are vital to the Northern Ireland economy, creating an annual turnover of £135m and supporting 1,550 jobs,” he said during a visit to Kilkeel harbour.

The proposals include creating a new harbour at Kilkeel along with a deeper approach channel to allow larger vessels to land. The approach channel at Ardglass would also be deepened. The existing harbour and abandoned buildings at Portavogie would also be developed under the plans.

“For the future of these industries, it is vital we move ahead with these major developments. If we get approval for funding, we envisage around £100m will be invested in key infrastructure at Kilkeel, Ardglass and Portavogie,” said Edwin Poots.

Last year, the Fishing and Seafood Development Programme published a report setting out a vision for developing Northern Ireland’s harbour infrastructure.

“Our fishing and seafood industry must be fit for the 21st century and be prosperous and sustainable. It must be in a position to take advantage of new fishing opportunities and contribute to green growth,” said the minister.

However, Minister Poots described the projects as being ‘complicated’ and said: “There is some way to go before we can take final decisions to build new harbours.”

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 £3.30 here


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