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21 May 2010

Northern Ireland visit

Fishermen in Portavogie and Ardglass are being encouraged to find out more about new marine protection measures.

Staff from the Irish Sea Conservation Zones project will spend three days in Portavogie and Ardglass next week to explain how the project is working and how local fishermen can get involved.

The visit has been arranged with the help of the Northern Irish Fish Producers Organisation.

Many fishermen from Portavogie and Ardglass rely on fishing for prawns in areas off the Isle of Man and Cumbria.

In these areas, the Irish Sea Conservation Zones project is responsible for helping to recommend new Marine Conservation Zones to the government.

These could affect fishermen working in the Irish Sea by leading to possible restrictions on fishing in some areas.

But in a new approach the project is helping sea users including commercial fishermen to recommend to the government where Marine Conservation Zones could be located in the Irish Sea project area.

Within 12 nautical miles off the coast of Northern Ireland, the Northern Irish Assembly is responsible for establishing marine protection.

Laura Bates, liaison officer for Northern Ireland, said: “When we visited Kilkeel and Portavogie earlier this year, a lot of the fishermen were out at sea because of the good weather.

“This time we hope that by timing our visit with the high tide we can speak to more fishermen.

“Meeting people face to face means we get a real insight into the challenges they face working in a difficult environment and from the point of view of health and safety and making a living.

“Around half the fishermen in Portavogie and Ardglass work beyond 12 nautical miles and we really need to talk to them.

“By filling out our mapping survey we can make sure that their activities are taken into consideration when Marine Conservation Zones are being recommended.”

Laura and her colleagues will be in Portavogie on May 26th- 27th and Ardglass on May 28th to coincide with high tide.

To arrange a meeting, call 01925 813 200 or email l.bates@irishseaconservation.org.uk.

Alternatively, contact NIFPO: 028 4484 2144