Business

Fishing company eyes opportunity on the horizon with new vessel

NIFPO chief executive Harry Wick and Kevin Fitzpatrick from First Trust Bank pictured outside one of the north's newest marine fishing vessels, 'Unity', owned by the Glenluce Fishing Company.

FAMILY-run Co Down business Glenluce Fishing Company has added a new boat to its fleet following a multi-million pound investment in a 28 metre marine fishing vessel ‘Unity'.

Purchased from Denmark and refitted by Glenluce, it replaces a previous vessel owned by the firm and is now the biggest and most modern vessel of its type in Northern Ireland.

Bought to grow the company's already strong white fish and prawn catch and to capitalise on quota changes, Unity's size, capacity and modern systems mean it is able to travel further afield and can fish and land catch more economically and efficiently.

It joins two other boats in the Glenluce fleet - Havilah, a 52 metre pelagic marine fishing vessel and ‘Onward', an 18 metre vessel used for prawn and scallop fishing.

The Glenluce Fishing Company is run by the Orr family and employs 24 members of staff.

An active member of the Northern Ireland Fish Producers Organisation (NIFPO), the significant investment has been welcomed by that body's chief executive Harry Wick, who points to a strong year for the local industry and optimism for 2018 despite political uncertainty.

He said: “We are delighted to see Unity, one of the largest and most modern boats of its kind, join the Northern Ireland fleet. It's a great addition to Glenluce Fishing Company and will allow them to quickly capitalise upon any likely quota changes and regulatory changes brought about by Brexit.

“Competition in the Irish Sea basin is fierce and despite political stalemate locally, which has impacted infrastructure projects, 2017 has been a strong year for the South Down and Kilkeel fishing industry.

"Northern Ireland's responsible fishing practices over the last few years are paying dividends with an uplift in prawn, cod, and haddock quotas and this positive outlook is further enhanced by Brexit and the opportunity of added ownership and management of our fish stock over the coming years."

He added: “At the same time, fish and shellfish have enjoyed high prices, employment in the sector continues to grow, and there is continued optimism among our members as evidenced by investment in new vessels such as this.

"We look forward to maintaining this momentum into 2018 by capitalising on short term benefits and planning for long term opportunities brought about by Brexit together with our members, our partners and industry.”

First Trust Bank supported the Glenluce investment, and the bank's business acquisitions manager Kevin Fitzpatrick said: “We have worked with the Orr family for almost 40 years and we are delighted to support the company as they modernise and expand their operations.

"Our dedicated acquisitions team was able to complete this deal in a very short time-frame allowing Glenluce to get the boat home and fitted out in a matter of weeks.”

“The importance of the fishing industry to Northern Ireland's agri sector and our overall economy is well known and supporting businesses like Glenluce as they diversify is one of our key priorities.

"First Trust Bank account for 78 per cent of the market share of lending to the local fishing industry – a statistic we plan to grow even further.”

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