The Sea Fish Industry (Coronavirus) (Fixed Costs) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2021

Part of Executive Committee Business – in the Northern Ireland Assembly at 1:30 pm on 5th July 2021.

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Photo of William Irwin William Irwin DUP 1:30 pm, 5th July 2021

I welcome the motion. As I have stated many times in the House over the past year, COVID-19 and dealing with its health and economic effects have been hugely challenging for everyone, not least our Departments, and in the Assembly and Executive.

While some industries undoubtedly thrived during the pandemic, even those industries had to adapt to keep pace with what has been a very changeable picture. As I said previously, the agri-food sector really stepped up to the mark when other industries were having to wind down and, in many ways, had to redouble its efforts to meet increasing demand and panic purchasing and to ensure that it was able to place food on the shelves. That, of course, brought many challenges, and, as with our sea fishing community, COVID-19 had an impact.

In line with other payments that have been made to other industries and sectors, it was important that our hard-working fishermen also received financial aid. To that end, it is important to note that our fishing sector received the greatest level of support of any fishing sector in the British Isles, and I thank Minister Poots and his officials for listening to the needs of the industry and moving towards a scheme of support that responded to those needs in a practical manner. I am interested to enquire of the Minister what additional support will be made available for COVID recovery and his views on the UK-wide Seafood Response Fund. I support the motion and welcome the views of the Minister on the points that have been raised.