Progress on £40 million regeneration bid for Ardglass Harbour
MEMBERS of the fishing industry in Ardglass have said they are encouraged that a proposed £40 million regeneration plan for the Co Down port will go ahead.
The significant infrastructure project principally involves deepening the harbour to facilitate larger vessels and installing a pontoon for the crabber sector.
An onshore business development scheme also features in the plans being spearheaded by the Ardglass Harbour Developments (AHD) group.
Set up four years ago, the limited company has brought local fish producers, boat owners, skippers, fish sales businesses and community members together in a bid to advance the regeneration of the port.
This week the AHD group hosted a number of key stakeholders including senior officials from the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA); along with the Northern Ireland Fisheries and Harbour Authority; Newry Mourne and Down District Council; and the Northern Ireland Fish Producers Organisation.
Following that meeting, DAERA's head of fishing and marine development, Owen Lyttle, said the department has now started an internal process in the hope of securing investment to modernise Ardglass Harbour, along with fishery harbours at Kilkeel and Portavogie.
“There will be quite a number of small steps to take and initially it might appear slow, but once the project boards and teams are operating it should speed up. We hope to be in action by 2023 when the programme delivery team will hand over,” said Mr Lyttle.
“There will no doubt be a lot of challenges but I will be pressing forward to form the boards to work on these technical issues very soon.”
Welcoming the comments, AHD chair Comgall Milligan said: “The herring and mackerel processors in Ardglass will benefit as the larger vessels will then be able to dock and unload in Ardglass fishing port and it will hopefully cut down haulage costs and be of an environmental benefit.
“These infrastructural improvements will support jobs in the future and help keep Ardglass to the forefront of the fishing industry where it has been for the past 200+ years.”