UK Fisheries Minister visits NI and launch of #supportNIfishing campaign.
Northern Ireland’s fishermen welcomed the UK Fisheries Minister as he visited Ardglass and Kilkeel on Monday. Rt Hon Robert Goodwill MP was appointed to the role in March and our County Down ports are among the first he has visited since being in post.
Harry Wick, Chief Executive of the Northern Ireland Fish Producers’ Organisation (NIFPO), NI’s largest membership of fishermen said: “I’m delighted to welcome Mr Goodwill back to Northern Ireland and in particular to our fishing ports. It’s great that he accepted the industry’s invitation as it allows us to showcase at the very highest level the progress that our fishing communities are making locally.
“2019 so far looks like it could be the best year in quite some time for our fishermen and reflects the positive feeling around the fleet that our sustainable practices are paying off and that NI fishing is on the up and up.”
Representing the largest percentage of the Northern Ireland fishing fleet based in the harbours of Ardglass, Kilkeel and Portavogie, in his role as CEO of NIFPO Harry is a media spokesperson, Government advisor and voice of the fishermen for the Northern Ireland fishing industry.
Mr Goodwill, who is no stranger to NI having been previously a member of the NI Affairs Committee, said: “I am delighted to visit the fishing ports of Arglass and Kilkeel at such a pivotal time for our fishing industry as we leave the EU and become an independent coastal state.
“With a high quality catch and a skilled workforce, it is heartening to see first-hand the ambitious plans for the future and share our enthusiasm for fishing with future generations.”
Mr Wick added: “Today NIFPO is launching our SAFEGUARD THE FUTURE | #supportNIfishing campaign. If we deplete our fish stocks, lose licenses & quotas overseas, lack commercial interest in our produce and our kids don’t want to go into fishing, our future is bleak. We are the custodians of an historic fishing industry that needs to be around hundreds of years from now when Brexit will be a footnote in history.
“Whilst the politics rumbles on the campaign keeps us all focused on what is important; engaging our children, the future fishermen, to ensure they grow up with a view that NI fishing is worth fighting for and preserving; educating and engaging our current fishermen on sustainability to ensure there are fish stocks for their grandchildren’s grandchildren to fish; enabling the next generation of fishermen to buy boats and quotas; and to ensure there is a consumer demand for our world class seafood at the premium price that it warrants, meaning a commercially valuable catch upon which our future harbour economies will depend.
“With the absence of a Minister in Stormont, it can be difficult for our issues to get the representation they deserve, so we are grateful to Mr Goodwill for taking the time to visit us, to listen to what those issues are and to help us launch this important campaign”.
During the visit children from St Nicholas’ Primary School were on the quayside using touch tanks to get up close and personal with Ardglass sea life as part of a NI Fisheries and Harbour Authority sponsored education scheme. Pupils from the school will also soon be able to benefit from a purpose-built eco-garden, built in partnership with NIFPO.
“Sustainability and conservation have been at the heart of what we do in the NI industry for some time now. It is fantastic to have the chance to help instil those values in what we hope may be the next generation of responsible fishers.” said Mr Wick.
What is the ‘SAFEGUARD OUR FUTURE | #supportNIfishing’ campaign?
The aims of the campaign are to:
1. ENGAGE THE NEXT GENERATIONS
Educate our children about their fishing heritage, engage them in the fishing sector, create attractive pipelines into fishing
2. STOP THE OVERSEAS DRAIN OF NI LICENCES & FISHING OPPORTUNITY.
Enable the next generation to buy license and quota from our own retiring fishermen ensuring NI fishing capacity stays in Northern Ireland
3. CREATE A DEMAND FOR OUR WORLD CLASS SEAFOOD.
Differentiate our produce from the rest of the UK & Ireland, ensure it is sold for high-end prices as quality produce
4. CONTINUE ENSURING THERE ARE STOCKS TO FISH FOR THE FUTURE.
Ongoing engagement of NI fishermen in sustainable fishing techniques to safeguard future stocks, holding ourselves to the high standards that our customers expect
5. GROW A FEELING OF COMMUNITY OWNERSHIP & PRIDE.
Locals will only want to save what they value and feel worth saving. Develop community collaboration and co-operation.