“Along with other MPs who have fishing ports in their constituency, I have secured a general fishing debate in Westminster for this Thursday in advance of the final negotiations in Brussels in December for the determination of allocations for various fish species.
Fishing – both on-shore and off-shore is critical to fuelling economic growth and productivity in South Down with the two fishing ports of Ardglass and Kilkeel. The white fish sector and nephrops are important to our local economy and the fishing industry needs to obtain realistic quota allocations for the purposes of pump priming our local economy in the processing sector.
The purpose of the debate on Thursday in the House of Commons is to highlight the issues which impact on the local fishing industry: quota arrangements for 2016; the inadequacy of the scientific evidence of fish in the Irish Sea upon which the European Commission is inclined to make their decisions, but also to impress upon the local Minister for Agriculture and the EFRA Secretary of State the need to ensure that the best deal is achieved for our local fishing industry.
Other issues that will be raised include the impact of the designation of potential Marine Management Zones in the Irish Sea on fishing effort; the need for further infrastructure developments at Ardglass and Kilkeel Harbour which involve widening the harbour mouths to enable larger ships to land fish; the direct association between the fishing and engineering industries in building a multi-faceted economic enterprise zone in South Down; the Landing Obligation and Fish Discards; price of fuel and the limiting nature of our stormy weather conditions on days at sea fishing, and the need for Philipino international mariners who contribute to the local fishing industry to be properly regulated.
I would hope that the Minister with responsibility for Fisheries will respond in a favourable manner, and armed with information from local MPs will be able to negotiate the best possible deal at the European Commission discussions on fish species allocations later in December 2015. Our local industry and economic growth depends to a large extent on successful negotiations in Brussels in December 2015”.