April 26, 2024
Kearney urges DAERA Minister to address the pressures on Lough Neagh’s fishing industry

Sinn Féin’s Declan Kearney has written to the DAERA Minister urging him to address the financial pressures which will potentially impact upon Lough Neagh’s commercial freshwater fishing industry again this season. 

The South Antrim MLA said:

“During a recent Assembly sitting, I highlighted the serious financial pressures which had affected the Lough Neagh fishing industry in 2023 and said I would write directly to the DAERA Minister about the need to address the hardships which will potentially re-emerge for the Lough’s commercial fishermen again this season.

“The eel fishing season on the Lough normally lasts six months, from May until October. Last year this was reduced to a period of just six weeks, with significant financial hardships caused for fisher families and devastating repercussions for the freshwater fishing industry and other businesses which are reliant upon Lough Neagh for incomes and livelihoods.

“The extent of these intensive financial pressures has received little attention. However, if similar levels of blue-green algae pollute the Lough again this year, local fishermen and other businesses will be faced with an unsustainable financial situation.

“Eel fishing is synonymous with Lough Neagh in both historical and contemporary terms. Our local eels have been awarded the prestigious Protected Geographical Indication status. Yet, the numbers of fishermen working on the Lough has reduced by as much as 80% during the last 30 years.

“I have now written to the DAERA Minister outlining my concerns and urging him to ensure that the financial and livelihood hardships for local fishermen are taken into account within his department’s strategy to tackle the catastrophic impacts upon the ecosystem and economy of the lough.

“I have also called for a step change regarding engagement with local people and an appropriate communication strategy in advance of this summer period. It is essential that the experiences of 2023 are applied to preparations and contingency planning for this year as a matter of urgency.” 

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