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Minister Smith meets with Killybegs Fishermen and Donegal Factory Owners

The Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, Brendan Smith TD, visited Killybegs today and met representatives of the Killybegs Fishermen's Organisation (KFO) and the Donegal Fish Merchants Association (DFMA), to discuss key issues affecting their industry.

The Minister welcomed this opportunity to have a broad exchange of views with the seafood sector in the North West saying "I am grateful to the KFO and the DFMA for extending this opportunity to me. The economic wellbeing of the fishing industry and indeed the wider seafood sector is of critical importance not only to Killybegs but to the many rural Coastal Communities around Ireland.  It was in this light that I was happy to come to Killybegs and hear at first hand both the concerns and also the hopes of the industry. I am convinced that the seafood sector, as an integral part of the food sector generally, will play its role in Ireland's economic recovery".

Killybegs being the home of our main mackerel and herring fishing fleet meant that a lot of time was devoted to issues affecting those fisheries. Other issues covered included the review of the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP), the international dimension of fisheries management and trade, markets and new marketing opportunities. The Minister said "I was made acutely aware of the challenges being faced by the industry currently, but I was also advised on new opportunities.  An example includes the emerging boar fish fishery which is an exciting development currently the subject of research which is being funded by the KFO.  The development of major new processing activity in Killybegs with the processing of blue whiting from the Norwegian and Scottish fleets fishing this large stock off the west coast of Ireland was also an exciting new opportunity".

On the future landscape for the Seafood Sector the Minister emphasised the need for "a collective and comprehensive strategic approach to maximise the economic return to Ireland from fishing in a sustainable manner by increasing value added and embracing new and innovative opportunities".

Concluding, Minister Smith said "We have a high quality product and a resilient, capable and energetic industry. In order to realise the full potential of this important sector of the economy we must continue to work together in a focused and harmonised way and continue to innovate and develop new projects and markets.  I have every confidence in the ability of the seafood sector to continue to capture these new opportunities".

Date Released: 11 June 2010