Sea-Source joins fight to keep Kilkeel fishing industry on the crest of a wave
The Co Down fishing industry is fighting back against any business threat by taking an upbeat message to Northern Ireland's biggest agricultural show.
A new Kilkeel-based fish and seafood co-operative plans to reposition the industry as a reinvigorated business with a bright future at the Balmoral Show which takes place from Wednesday to Friday next week.
Sea-Source was established last year by a network of Kilkeel fishermen and onshore marine-related business owners. It's already branding seafood and fish products available in supermarkets and aims to expand its market throughout the UK and Ireland.
Chaired by fisherman Trevor Annett, Sea-Source has diversified into storage, packaging, marketing and distribution of its catch.
Mr Annett says that the co-operative is proud of its success so far.
"As one of the top three landing locations for langoustines in the UK and Ireland, the Co Down port has developed international export markets and has diversified into other areas of the marine economy including commercial offshore developments," he added.
Kilkeel is currently the subject of a study to assess the need for a harbour extension. According to Sea-Source chief executive Alan McCulla, such an extension would see additional private investment.
He says that expansion is critical to the future of Kilkeel and has warned that a planned extension of the harbour is essential to the future of the fishing town.
"Kilkeel is seeing a resurgence in the fishing sector, with the industry securing more than 800 jobs on shore as well as on the boats," Mr McCulla said.
"Investment in the fishing industry has been very healthy in the last two years.
"Already we are seeing a strong and sustainable renaissance in fishing.
"In addition to this, there now exists a fleet of specialist vessels and crews who can undertake all sorts of work on behalf of offshore developers, particularly those in cable-laying and renewable energy."