Sinn Féin’s Emma Rogan MLA has called on the Fisheries Minister Edwin Poots to bring forward an urgent hardship package for the local fishing industry to help mitigate the catastrophic effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The South Down MLA said:
“With our three local harbours full of boats tied up due to the Coronavirus pandemic it is vital that our local fishing industry remains financially viable into the future.
“With expensive outgoings each month for insurance, harbour dues, and equipment leases the financial pressure of having boats tied up for a prolonged period of time will become increasingly difficult for the local fleet.
“If this situation is not managed effectively the temptation for crews to return to fishing against the strict social distancing guidelines will be too strong, and undoubtedly some workers will be exploited.
“Minister Poots needs to urgently address the needs of the local industry by bringing forward a financial scheme that not only helps the owners of the boats, but also the crews and indeed the local deck hands. If our local fishing industry is to thrive beyond this crisis then we need a hardship package that is designed to protect the industry in all of its parts.”