Sinn Féin Lead Fishing Delegation To Meet DARD Minister


He added, “Monday’s meeting allowed us to discuss a number of issues including quota restrictions, the boat decommissioning scheme and regulation of the grants available so they are brought more in line with the Scottish and Free  State Irish systems of £50K towards a new boat for skippers under 40. [caption id="attachment_19991" align="alignleft" width="400" caption="Sinn Féin Assembly and local government candidates Caitríona Ruane, Willie Clarke, Naomi Baillie and Martin Rice pictured with the delegation of fishermen who met DARD Minister Michelle Gildernew."][/caption] “The fishing industry is being hit hard by EU regulations and Minister Gildernew clearly made great efforts before Christmas to get the best deal possible for the local industry. However, to compound the difficulties around fish stocks is the significant impact of diesel increases and many fishermen feel they are not being treated on an equal basis with regard to fuel prices. This is because French and Spanish fleets get subsidies and without a similar incentive here in the Six Counties we the industry may become completely unviable.” Naomi Baillie said that those present at the meeting with Minister Gildernew had made clear their determination to try and encourage a younger generation to work in the industry. “The North’s over 10 metre fishing fleet of mostly wooden vessels is the oldest in Europe and this is having a significant environmental impact in terms of the carbon footprint and fuel efficiency. “Existing grant funds are of little or no benefit to most fishermen as they are unable to met the 60% shortfall that is needed to qualify for aid. To make matters worse, banks are unwilling to assist with loans and overdrafts and this is creating even greater hardship.” Mr Rice believes additional funding is needed for Seafish training courses. He added,  “There are very good courses available but men are not staying at the job meaning crews are left unqualified and this could prevent them going to sea. “Also raised at Monday’s meeting is the fact that people working within the fishing industry need to be kept better informed on future plans and schemes. “There is too much paper work and there are too many administrators for the number of boats. For example, they have to pay £60 per month for A.S.T. tracking and local fishermen only want their industry to be sustainable, profitable and have a long term future.”]]>


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