Fisheries Minister Michelle McIlveen says the Foyle border dispute is impinging on the Loughs Agency’s ability to licence aquaculture effectively.
The Minister expressed concerns when asked about the ownership of Lough Foyle by DUP MLA Maurice Morrow.
The query was prompted by Secretary of State James Brokenshire’s recent restatement of the British position that the whole of the waterway is in the UK.
She said talks were ongoing between the Irish and British Governments and the issue may be raised at their next meeting later this month in Dublin.
She said her main worry she had as Fisheries Minister was the practical difficulties presented for licensing.
“My immediate concern is that the ongoing dispute is impacting the ability of the Loughs Agency to effectively manage aquaculture activities, particularly licensing in Lough Foyle, and I am, therefore, anxious that it be resolved,” she said.
“For that reason, during my first North/South Ministerial Council meeting in September, there was a discussion on how the ongoing dispute is adversely affecting the operational activities of the Loughs Agency.
“The pressing priority for all those involved in the discussions should be to come to an arrangement that will allow the Loughs Agency to fulfil its role properly,” she added.
Miss McIlveen reiterated that the British claim dated back to Charles II’s 1662 Charter, which granted the waters, the bed and the fisheries of the Foyle to the Irish Society.
Dublin’s position, she claimed, which hasn’t altered over the course of the last century, is causing problems.
“There is a claim by the Irish Government by virtue of the fact that they have not accepted the position of the United Kingdom, which is obviously causing ongoing problems, not only with aquaculture licensing in Lough Foyle but with any future management that we would like to put in place, particularly for Lough Foyle and Carlingford.”