NORTHERN IRELAND, UK - Fisheries Minister, Michelle O’Neill has committed to bring forward a Fisherman’s Assistance Package.
The Minister was speaking after a meeting with a delegation of fishermen, led by South Down MLA Chris Hazzard.
She said: "Last spring I secured Executive approval to make available some £400,000 to extend financial assistance to our fishermen because of the impacts of exceptionally bad weather. During my meeting this afternoon I heard that many are facing difficulties both financial and weather related which have prevented them from putting to sea.
"I have therefore agreed to bring forward proposals to the Executive for some immediate help where this is needed most."
The Minister announced that she plans to appoint a Fishing Industry Taskforce to undertake a fundamental examination of the challenges and opportunities facing the industry and to identify options for reform to help to ensure the future sustainability of the local fishing sector.
She said: "The Taskforce will help my Department in identifying the key priorities under the new European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF) and advise how this fund can best help to assist the industry meet its obligations under the reformed Common Fisheries Policy.
"It is during such difficult times that government and industry must work as one. I look forward to effective engagement and co-operation with the industry and to constructive proposals emerging from the work of the Fisheries Taskforce."
The Minister added that she plans to visit the fishing port of Kilkeel early next month for further discussions with the industry and will continue to work towards maintaining a sharp focus on the strategic development of this vital sector for our coastal communities.
TheFishSite News Desk