MINISTER Michelle Gildernew MP, MLA has commissioned a new Fisheries Protection Vessel (FPV) at Bangor harbour.
The ‘Banríon Uladh’ (Maid of Ulster) was constructed at a cost of £2.2 million, with 50% funding from the EU, and replaces the ‘Ken Vickers’ vessel which has been in service since 1992. Crewed by DARD Fisheries Officers, the new 26-metre-long vessel will operate in the Irish Sea and North Channel from Bangor harbour.
Speaking at the commissioning ceremony, the Minister said, “An appropriate seagoing resource is a major component of effective fisheries management and the Banríon Uladh will be invaluable in ensuring local regulations are upheld.
“The new vessel is considerably larger and swifter than her predecessor allowing improved performance at sea and greater operating safety. In addition to seagoing inspections, it has the capacity to map features on the seabed, survey inshore mussel resources for the aquaculture industry, and detect pollutants.
“These will be of great assistance to our science partners the Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute (AFBI) and will help in our future understanding of the marine environment.”
The new vessel was constructed by AS Baltic Workboats in Estonia and has already been operating in the Irish Sea as part of a Joint Deployment Plan with the Irish Naval Service to underpin fishery protection arrangements.
The Minister added, “I have great pleasure naming the vessel Banríon Uladh, may she keep the crew safe for years to come and provide good service to everyone that needs her.”