New DAERA Minister Andrew Muir visits Portavogie

New Alliance Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs Minister Andrew Muir met today with members of the Northern Ireland Fishing Harbour Authority and local fishers during a visit to Portavogie Harbour.

Andrew Muir Strangford daera

The visit is the latest in a series of face-to-face engagements across all parts of the extensive remit of his Department.
After the visit, the Alliance MLA said: “The fisheries sector is an integral part of the DAERA family, playing an essential role in the economy of Northern Ireland, putting food on our tables and it is an unquestionable part of the fabric of our rural communities.
“Our local harbours in Co. Down are important economic hubs along our coastline and I was delighted to visit Portavogie to hear from people on the ground, or in this case on the water, about the issues that matter to them the most.
“To meet and adapt to challenges and exploit the increasing opportunities from the blue economy, there is a need for investment in Northern Ireland’s harbour infrastructure. I am committed to ensuring these harbours modernise and contribute to the sustainability and decarbonisation of the fishing sector and local areas.”
During his visit the Minister congratulated NIFHA on securing an offer from the UK Seafood Fund of 75% of the £3.6million cost of an upgrade of the current slipway facilities at Portavogie.
The Alliance DAERA Minister said: “I am happy that my Department has already provided financial assistance towards the development costs associated with the UK Seafood Fund application and we are committed to providing the 25% match funding required to complete the investment by 31 March 2025.

“Government needs to provide support with clear policies and other measures. I will shortly be considering a five-year strategic plan which will offer support along the lines available under previous EU Programmes.
“The plan will seek to provide incentives to enable the industry sectors to become more economically resilient. It will also aim to provide green growth funding to help stakeholders make a significant contribution to Northern Ireland’s net-zero targets as well as continuing to support the recent good work on stock sustainability and in reducing the environmental impact of fishing. In addition to the introduction of new on-board technologies and the investment in more modern fishing vessels, there will have to be investment in shore side infrastructure to support decarbonisation. I hope to be able to open a new scheme to applications in Summer 2024 once the legislative and budgetary approvals are in place.
“I look forward to engaging with the Northern Ireland fishing industry to explore options for fleet modernisation, sustainability and achieving net zero targets.”