Inishowen has a major role to play in Ireland economic resurgence if we can get the local fishing industry to ‘work smart’ - and there is real potential for job creation also
That was the upbeat message from Minister for Agriculture, Food and Marine Simon Coveney who yesterday paid a visit to Greencastle to meet with representatives of the fishing industry there.
Speaking prior to the meeting with the Derry Journal the minister said it was a ‘realistic objective’ to have a 50 per cent growth in exports of fishing products by 2020 and to have the value of those exports increase by 40 per cent.
“I accept this is a dramatic expansion but it is doable’, the minister explained.
And stating that he would be announcing a plan to create 240 new jobs in Killybegs this morning Minister Coveney said he was hopeful that a similar number could be created in Inishowen in the life of the current government.
He told this paper: “Donegal is central to our whole fishing enterprise. Greencastle and Killybegs are expected to be growth sectors to increase volume and value of the fishing sector here.
“Donegal already has the best of infrastructure for the fishing industry but it is vital that we build on this.
“At this time when money is extremely tight there is a lot we can do without spending a lot of money.
“We have the resources and the expertise. That is why for the first time ever there is a tie-up between fishermen, Bord Iascaigh Mhara, Letterkenny Institute of Technology and Donegal Co. Council to create jobs.”
Asked about the whole issue of controversy about the development of aquaculture the minister said it would have to be looked at.
“The current situation in regard to aqualculture licensing is ridiculous, but those expecting that I can wave a magic wand as a new minister have got it wrong. The reality is that the government has lost a case on this issue in Europe so it needs to be looked at again.
“There is massive potential here so we are looking at ways to exploit that while being cognisant of the environmental concerns. For starters, a lot of aquaculture could be done off-shore, not in the bays.”
As regards to developments at Greencastle, the minister said he was hamstrung by lack of funding to a large degree.
He explained: “8m. euro has been allocated to the breakwater project and it will take 10m. more to complete it. I don’t have that kind of funding right now, so what I propose to do is make the pier safe for users by spending 2m.
“It is not safe at the moment and in a storm there could be real damage done but when I have money available it will be completed.”
Minister Coveney said this visit was a ‘listening exercise’ and he wanted to hear all views
“It is important that I listen and learn from all sectors. We need to get this industry at full potential”