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Oyster fishermen's plea to Council 22.05.11

FINE Gael councillors in Inishowen are to facilitate a meeting for oyster fishermen with Minister for Agriculture, Food and Marine, Simon Coveney, during his visit to the peninsula next month.
The pledge was made when a deputation from the Lough Foyle native wild oyster industry gave a presentation at this week’s Inishowen Electoral Area meeting in Carndonagh.
Representing the oystermen were Liam Farren of Whiskey Rock Fisheries Ltd, Paul McLaughlin, chairman of the Lough Foyle Oyster sub-committee and native oyster fisherman, James McKinley.
Mr Farren addressed the county councillors during which he outlined the importance of the native oyster to the fishing, business and local community and the need for its preservation.
The group alleged that the ongoing issue of mussel seed aquaculture licences by the Loughs Agency was causing the problem. “Mussel seed was relaid on top of our public oyster beds. This practice is ongoing and can no longer be tolerated if the native oyster is to survive in Lough Foyle,” said Mr Farren, reading from a report prepared by the deputation. The group, who called for a public inquiry to address their concerns, also outlined their worries relating to the arrival in the lough in 2005 of bonamia disease, a blood parasite that kills native oysters. They said the oyster industry was supporting more than 50 families along Lough Foyle and they wanted to “let the truth come out in relation to Lough Foyle”.
Mr Farren added: “The end result is, as agreed among traditional fishermen and my business, that aquaculture is a pest in Lough Foyle.” Cllr Martin Farren welcomed the men and said he would carefully consider their report. He told them his “door is open”. “It is my job to try and do what’s best for Lough Foyle and the future of the industry,” said Cllr Farren.
Cllr Bernard McGuinness said Minister Coveney was visiting the peninsula at the beginning of June. “I have no hesitation in requesting a meeting for you with the minister,” said Cllr McGuinness, who was supported by Fine Gael colleague, Cllr Mickey Doherty. Cllr Farren urged the men to have their submission ready for the minister.
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