Ulster Unionist Culture Spokesperson, Michael McGimpsey, has urged Minister Caral Ni Cuillin to take action to mitigate the effects of proposals to suspend commercial eel fishing in Europe which would have a hugely detrimental effect on the Lough Neagh eel fishery.
The South Belfast MLA said;
“The Minister`s response to the situation which the eel Fisherman of Lough Neagh find themselves in is totally inadequate. Instead of looking for independent advice and conducting equality assessments, I would appeal to the Minister to take some direct action to alleviate the fishermen`s plight and put in place plans to ‘buy out’ their fishing permits. This was done successfully in the past with the Salmon Nets for conservation purposes when stocks became dangerously low.’
“The DCAL Committee considered this issue today and, whilst the declining stock levels of eels throughout Europe must be addressed, our eel fishery on Lough Neagh will be severely affected by any limitation on fishing. Sinn Fein’s Caral Ni Cuillin should take real action instead of attempting to duck the issue by throwing this out to what is effectively a review process.’’