Seafood hub call for Kil­keel

Ex­pan­sion of har­bour will be a boost af­ter Brexit, says fish­ing boss

Belfast Telegraph - Business Telegraph - - Front Page - BY RACHEL MARTIN

THE de­vel­op­ment of Kil­keel har­bour could boost ex­ports and the econ­omy post-brexit, a North­ern Ire­land fish­ery boss has claimed.

It comes just days af­ter it was an­nounced the UK would with­draw from the Lon­don fish­eries con­ven­tion, an agree­ment signed in 1964, be­fore the UK joined the EU.

The con­ven­tion al­lows ves­sels from France, Bel­gium, Ger­many, Ire­land and the Nether­lands to fish within six and 12 nau­ti­cal miles of the UK’S coast­line.

DUP MEP Diane Dodds told the BBC that the move was the first step to­wards the UK re-es­tab­lish­ing it­self as an in­de­pen­dent coastal state.

But Dick James of the North­ern Ire­land Fish Pro­duc­ers As­so­ci­a­tion also said that an al­ter­na­tive must be found.

The fish­ing in­dus­try had largely been in favour of the UK with­draw­ing from the EU. It’s es­ti­mated that around 90% of fish­er­men voted for Brexit.

Alan Mc­culla, man­ag­ing di­rec­tor of Sea Source — a com­pany owned by fish­er­men which mar­kets, pro­cesses and sells North­ern Ire­land fish — said the an­nual vol­ume of the har­bour’s catch was be­hind only Fraser­burg in north­east Scot­land.

“While we al­ready ex­port much of our fish and lan­goustines to France and Italy, I be­lieve that there’s a sub­stan­tial busi­ness op­por­tu­nity to ex­port a great deal more to th­ese and other in­ter­na­tional mar­kets.

“Go­ing for Growth — In­vest­ing in Suc­cess, the strate­gic ac­tion plan from the Agri-food Strat­egy Board, also pin­pointed the op­por­tu­nity and saw po­ten­tial to in­crease ex­ter­nal sales by 38% to £75m by 2020 and to cre­ate an ad­di­tional 600 jobs.

“A step to­wards this would be an ex­pan­sion of Kil­keel, our largest fish­ery har­bour which is also sig­nif­i­cant at the UK level.

“Kil­keel re­ally should be de­vel­oped into our seafood hub by a greater in­vest­ment in fa­cil­i­ties.

“Ex­pand­ing the har­bour in­fra­struc­ture would also help re­duce our de­pen­dence, for in­stance, on lan­goustines. A very sig­nif­i­cant in­dus­try in pro­cess­ing lan­goustines has de­vel­oped at Kil­keel and there is scope to ex­pand this.”

Fish­er­men say ex­pand­ing the har­bour would al­low fish­er­men to land other species in­clud­ing her­ring and mack­erel, most of which could be ex­ported.

“At present, Kil­keel doesn’t have the fa­cil­i­ties for the trawlers for th­ese fish, which are ei­ther landed in Scot­land or the Repub­lic of Ire­land.

“Sev­eral of the trawlers in­volved in this busi­ness have told us they would use Kil­keel if the es­sen­tial har­bour fa­cil­i­ties were to be de­vel­oped for them,” Mr Mc­culla said.

“An­other im­por­tant growth op­por­tu­nity is through the pro­mo­tion of our su­perb seafood as a brand, and to use its re­gional prove­nance to drive a thriv­ing ex­port mar­ket — ramp­ing up over­seas value and vol­ume.

“This is why we are now busily de­vel­op­ing the Sea Source brand and iden­ti­fy­ing it with Kil­keel.”

He said North­ern Ire­land seafood, in­clud­ing lan­goustines, had im­pressed food pro­fes­sion­als he had met on a re­cent trip to Dubai.

Fish­er­man Davey Hill (left) and Alan Mc­culla, man­ag­ing di­rec­tor of Sea Source

Alan Mc­culla says Kil­keel should be de­vel­oped

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