Official Opening of New Ardglass Fish Market on 200th Anniversary
NI FISHERIES Minister Michelle O’Neil officially opened the new £300,000 fish market and refurbished ice-plant facility in Ardglass.
The Minister was visiting the County Down port on Wednesday 24 April as part of its 200th anniversary celebrations in 2013.
The new fish-market has been designed to cater for the current and projected needs of the Ardglass fishing fleet which, in terms of vessel numbers, has expanded significantly in recent years with a local fleet of 38 vessels. The Minister also took the opportunity to view the recent £110,000 investment in the port’s ice-making facilities which provides port users with an efficient ice supply critical fro maintaining good care of the catch.
Speaking at the event, the Minister said: “The new projects at Ardglass harbour, to which my Department has been able to contribute through the European Fisheries Fund, will improve the quality of the infrastructure required for our fishing industry to continue to operate as well as provide consumers with high quality seafood.
“This continuing DARD support for the Fishery Harbour Authority, in developing and improving fishing port facilities, serves as recognition of the confidence that government has in the future of our fishing industry.
“The restrictions and range of other pressures faced by the industry over the past years means it has had to restructure to ensure a long-term sustainable fishery will evolve, and one which will provide career and wealth opportunities for our rural fishing communities, especially along the County Down coast.”
The Minister went on to thank the Harbour Authority for the invitation to visit Ardglass in what was a very significant year in the harbour’s history.
As part of the visit, the Minister also took the opportunity to congratulate the successful graduates from the newly launched ‘Introduction to Commercial Fishing Scheme’ geared towards young people who wish to take up a career in the local fishing industry.
The Minister said: “This is the second such scheme to be run in the north of Ireland and through it 17 potential new entrants to the local fishing industry have been identified and trained in the key requirements for the job. I hope all of these graduates will enjoy a long, lucrative and successful career.”
The new fishmarket includes two chill rooms and a central handling area, with new toilet and shower facilities, and extra rooms for fishermen to relax in.
Last year Ardglass was the top gross landing port in Northern Ireland for prawns, the main catch, which fish is now a much less significant part of the work of local boats. Mackerel and herring pelagic vessels also land in Ardglass and service the two processing plants in the village.
Terry Jarvis, Chairman of the Board of the Northern Ireland Fishery and Harbour Authority said: “It is 200 years to the day since the Ardglass harbour was built and today we are celebrating the beginning of work that will see us into the next 200 years. This as all a very positive time for Ardglass. There has been much planning and building involved in this development and throughout, the NIFHA staff have done their best to accommodate vessel owners and fishermen.”
Mr jarvis then thanked the project team of David Lindsay and David Smyth. McGivern Construction won the contract, and the ice plant was supplied by Ace Refrigeration.
Ardglass Councillor Dermot Curran, Chairman of the Tri-Fisheries Working Group, added: “I would like to congratulate everyone who made this project possible. It is a great improvement to the harbour and will help bring more business to the area. Recently Margaret Ritchie MP hosted MEP and shadow Fishing Secretary visits to Ardglass. We have around 1200 fishermen in Northern Ireland and they will all benefit from this when visiting the port.
“I am delighted too to see a new ice plant as care of the catch is vital to maintaining a good product and the reputation of our fishing fleet.”