Major EU boost for Northern Irish fish industry

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The fish and seafood industry in Northern Ireland has received a major boost from the European Union that could lead to significant growth, especially in terms of sales, outside the region.

It’s the biggest boost the industry has received in over 20 years and will allow Northern Irish trawlers to land substantially larger amounts of cod and herring.

The decision on Total Allowable Catches (TAC) set by the EU will also support prawn fishermen. Currently, a majority of fish and seafood landed in Northern Ireland is exported to Britain, the rest of Europe, the Middle East and Asia.

Nephrops, especially prawns, are currently the biggest sector at Kilkeel, Northern Ireland’s biggest fishing port, and other smaller harbours along the coast of Down.

The decision will mean that the amount of cod that can be caught has been increased by a massive 376 per cent, herring up by 70 per cent and haddock by 23per cent.

Nephrops, such as prawns, have also seen an increase of 15 per cent in their quota.

Alan McCulla, the chief executive of Kilkeel-based fishing co-operative Sea Source, says: “Taken together these increases will contribute additional catches for Northern Ireland’s fishing fleet valued at several million pounds.

“The vast majority of fish taken from the Irish Sea are now harvested according to internationally recognised sustainability rules and whilst there is still a long way to go to return fisheries like cod to what they were in their heyday, decisions taken overnight in Brussels represent a very significant step in the right direction.”

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