Fisheries Minister Edwin Poots Visits Ardglass Port

Edwin Poots MLA, NI Fisheries Minister, has met with local fishing representatives in Ardglass to discuss their proposals for port infrastructure improvements.

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Edwin Poots MLA, NI Fisheries Minister, has met with local fishing representatives in Ardglass to discuss their proposals for port infrastructure improvements.

Fisheries Minister Edwin Poots MLA has met with fishermen and representatives of the fishing industry in Ardglass to discuss future opportunities for developing the fishing and the seafood sector in the area.

Following the meeting at Ardglass Harbour, Minister Poots said:  “Ardglass has a long history of fishing and I was pleased to visit the harbour to meet those involved and discuss with them their hopes and plans for the future. 

Fisheries Minister Edwin Poots, centre, meets fishing representatives in Ardglass: l-r Basil Wills, Boat Owner; Dick James, Director, Ardglass Harbour Developments; Harry Wick, CEO, NIFPO; and Comgall Milligan, Director, C&O Milligan (pelagic processor).

“Ardglass is involved in the supply of a whole range of quality seafood, from crabs and lobster, to prawns and herring.  I was informed about ambitious plans to develop infrastructure and I outlined our intention to take stock of fishing opportunities following the conclusion of talks with EU on a Future Fisheries Agreement and Coastal State negotiations.

“I am hopeful of a successful outcome for Irish Sea fisheries and once we have more certainty about the future then we can get on and develop the industry sustainably.

“To aid sustainability I recently announced a £1.7million scheme to help the fishing fleet deal with the impacts of Covid-19 on the markets for key species. This brings the total amount of funding I’ve allocated for the sea fishing industry during the Covid pandemic to £3.2million.

“As Fisheries Minister I want to see our fishing industry prosper in the years ahead and be in position to avail of opportunities that may arise and I will support them in doing so.”

Comgall Milligan, pelagic factory owner and chairman of Ardglass Harbour Developments (Ltd), said: “Our group were delighted to meet with Minister Poots last Thursday.

From left, NI Fisheries Minister Edwin Poots, Comgall Milligan, Director at C&O Milligan, Ardglass, and Dick James, Director, Ardglass Harbour Developments (Ltd).

“Minister Poots showed us his consideration and attention and we are grateful for this. We are working on proposals to deepen the harbour to allow bigger vessels to operate safely.

“Prawn boats and pelagic trawlers have just become considerably bigger and are deeper draughted in recent years due to needs to address efficiencies, so our port needs to also adapt too for future generations of fishermen to secure their livelihoods.

“At the moment we are looking at doing a geo-phs study of the sea bed in the harbour. We will have to progress eventually to a business plan with an environmental study.

“Our aim is to ensure that the herring boats can land safely, that the prawn fleet can have improved and safer berthing around the harbour and that the crab sector gets a pontoon system like they have in Portavogie and Kilkeel.

“We will be working closely with NIFHA, DAERA, Newry Mourne and Down District Council. And we also thank all our politicians for their great support to date and going forward and look forward to the continued support from the Minister.”