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 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.