South Down Alliance Party group visits Kilkeel to meet fishing industry representatives.
A delegation of Alliance Party representatives visited Kilkeel Harbour last week to meet with Alan McCulla, CEO of SeaSource and ANIFPO (Anglo-North Irish Fish Producers Association), to discuss the future of the fishing industry in the area.
Dr Stephen Farry MP, the Alliance Party’s Brexit Spokesperson, said: “Alliance opposed Brexit and remain committed Europeans.
“However, our responsibility now is to secure the best deal for Northern Ireland including our fishing industry.
“I am keen to ensure that the forthcoming UK Fisheries Bill works for Northern Ireland, and a very particular challenge is to ensure that fishing catch that is landed by local boats in local ports is treated as UK (NI) procured for the purposes of the Northern Ireland Protocol and giving unfettered access to both the GB and EU markets.”
The Chair of the Council’s Economic Regeneration and Tourism committee, Councillor Andrew McMurray, added: “The Harbour is a major contributor to the economic prosperity of Kilkeel as well as being integral to its heritage and story.
“Sea Source is a major part of this drive and it was a pleasure to be invited to look at the long-term vision for the Harbour and its development.
“While future uncertainties present challenges, there is clearly a drive and energy to take advantages of what opportunities may come.
“It was clear from the meeting that sustainability, a focus on the workforce and a world class product is the main ethos behind the success to date.”
The Party’s South Down representative Councillor Patrick Brown added: “The fishing industry is an integral part of the South Down economy and a key area for growth in the future.
“But it is more than that. It is also a way of life for people in Kilkeel and in other coastal areas.
“With the challenges of Brexit and a post-COVID world impending, it is vital that we invest in giving communities the resources and skills to take advantage of the bounty in our seas.
“Fishing communities deserve respect and admiration for the valuable, skilled work they do, and as elected representatives we need to make sure they have investment and support to thrive.
“Ensuring a best of both worlds deal in the Brexit negotiations and expanding Kilkeel harbour could deliver huge social and economic dividends for the area.
“It is important also too to look at the other fishing ports of Ardglass and Portavogie and see how these ports could be developed to build a strong fishing industry for the future in County Down.”