LNFCS welcomed Lord Duncan, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State and representatives from Northern Ireland Office to our site on Fri 7th Dec 2018. We outlined the concerns we have for the eel fishing industry on Lough Neagh, the largest commercial wild eel fishery in the EU, post Brexit.
Given that the UK will in future no longer be part of the EU, but remains a Party to CITES, this will mean that according to the CITES Convention any trade in eel from Lough Neagh into the EU will require an export permit from the UK, the basis for which will be a Non-Detriment Finding (NDF) affirming LNFCS’ approach to the management of the eel fishery on the lough. As 80% of Lough Neagh eel goes live to Holland, the Brexit issue could have a catastrophic effect on the local fishing community if an NDF is denied or if trade tariffs impact upon the export operation, which by its very nature is time critical in terms of fish quality.
Pat Close, Chairman of LNFCS, spoke to Lord Duncan about the sustainable management of the fishery and the conservation measures in place on Lough Neagh. He spoke also of the supplementary stocking programme undertaken on the lough, which even in the presence of a commercial fishery produces additional amounts of escaping spawning adults, which will aid stock recovery Europe-wide.
LNFCS values Lord Duncan’s interest and understanding of the unique circumstances being faced by the local industry and hope that this can influence a positive outcome for the traditional, sustainable fishing for eel on Lough Neagh, which has a value of approx. £3 million per annum to the local rural economy.