The fishing industry in Northern Ireland has seen most of the fleet in harbour the past fortnight due to the effects of COVID-19 on markets.
Most deckhands and skippers on fishing boats in Northern Ireland are classified as self-employed share-fishermen like most others across the UK and Ireland.
Boat owners, however, cannot avail of the relief other business owners can apply for and as business owners they are still liable for harbour fees and insurance costs, especially at a time when their fishing vessels cannot be put to sea as it is not economical to do so.
Fish markets and processors are also struggling due to the closure of international markets in East Asia and in Europe. There is currently a campaign underway to encourage people to support their local fleet by eating more locally caught fish. One example of this is Sea Source – Anifpo in Kilkeel, who are offering a delivery service from their shop in the town.
The fishing industry in Northern Ireland will welcome the announcement from the Minister who has been quoted as saying “I’m actively considering the ways my Department can support NI’s fishing industry in this challenging time. I’ve asked my officials to present me with a range of options and will progress this as soon as possible.”