Mid-Ulster Sinn Féin public representatives met with a number of Lough Neagh fishermen in Toomebridge last Friday.
The meeting focused on the sustainability and needs of the eel and scale fishing industries to the lough shore area.
The meeting heard concerns from the fishermen in terms of possible impacts of Brexit to eel exports, the loss of EU Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) Status and the EU interpretation of the eel becoming an endangered species all of which presently contributes to the uncertainty around the long term sustainability of the industry at present.
Commenting Sinn Féin Loughshore Councillor Ronan Mc Ginley said;
“The meeting was very informative in terms of obtaining an understanding of the major challenges being faced by the fishermen along the lough. The implications around the north`s withdrawal from the European Union present this local industry with many uncertainties and problems at present”.
Cllr McGinley continued;
“Fishing families have proven their resilience down through the generations within the lough shore area. The present generation are determined to overcome these challenges, one of which is being able to build family homes and reside within the lough shore countryside. The fishermen are seeking the adoption of rural planning policies of a similar nature to that which currently exists for farmers who wish to reside in the countryside.
Fishing families in the lough shore area should have similar opportunities to that of rural farmers to apply for planning permissions. Sinn Féin have committed to having Mid-Ulster District Council along with other councils along the lough shore, explore the possibilities to create new planning policies for family fishing businesses allowing them to sustain their businesses”
Mid-Ulster MP Francie Molloy said;
“I support the principle within planning that fishermen should have the same rights to building a home in the rural area as farmers, which is currently one house every ten years.
‘Fishermen make a great contribution to the rural community and it is important that they have the right to build a home to continue the line of fishermen and women.
‘There are a number of issues which are as relevant to fishing as they are to farming- for example, compensation for disasters such as flooding- I feel that the department need to consider this.’