Lough Shore: Help for Local Fishermen

Oral Answers to Questions — Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs – in the Northern Ireland Assembly at 3:15 pm on 3rd March 2020.

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Photo of Dolores Kelly Dolores Kelly Social Democratic and Labour Party 3:15 pm, 3rd March 2020

T6. Mrs D Kelly asked the Minister of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs whether he can provide any help, including flood alleviation measures, for those local fishermen who have contacted her and who are very concerned about the impact of the recent floods at the lough shore, with many of them unable even to get across to their boats. (AQT 196/17-22)

Photo of Edwin Poots Edwin Poots DUP

Maybe the Member needs to talk to the Minister for Infrastructure about flood alleviation and ensuring that our rivers maybe get a bit more dredging and can take more water away. If we look over at England and at many of the floods there, we see that it has been because of the lack of dredging that they have reached the point where many homes have flooded. Thankfully, in Northern Ireland, we did not get to that point this year, but we were not that far off it just a few days ago. We have had a bit of respite, but, were there to be further bad weather incidents, we could be at that point. We should not be at all complacent. I will visit the area to look at the conditions for myself.

Photo of Dolores Kelly Dolores Kelly Social Democratic and Labour Party

I welcome the Minister to have a look at that. Will there be collaboration across Departments, given the importance of the fishing industry to Lough Neagh?

Photo of Edwin Poots Edwin Poots DUP

I know the importance of the eel industry. There used to be a Father —

Photo of Edwin Poots Edwin Poots DUP

Yes. When I was in DCAL, he reminded me about it often, so I know the importance of the eel fishing industry in that area. Many people want to acquire that premium product, so I understand that the fishermen need to have the opportunity to catch that very high value commodity.

Photo of Alex Maskey Alex Maskey Sinn Féin

Time is up. I ask Members to take their ease for a moment while we change the top Table.

(Mr Deputy Speaker [Mr Beggs] in the Chair)