Northern Ireland fishermen net a hi-tech solution to tricky problems with their permits
The fishing industry here is getting a hi-tech boost with help from a top Northern Ireland firm to make the tricky process of permits and licences easier.
Belfast firm Kainos, along with BT, have designed a new Government portal website which allows fishermen to apply for permits and licences through one channel.
This project forms the first, fundamental building block for a larger five-year transformation strategy within the Inland Fisheries Group (IFG).
There is now one system and a simplified range of licences and permits to make it easy for fishermen to find the right one.
IFG, part of the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA), is the regulatory body for angling and commercial fishing in Northern Ireland.
The new online service also enables information sharing.
A shared management information system "underpinned by a central database for permit holder details makes the license management enforcement processes much more efficient" it's been claimed.
Sam Bolton, divisional director of Kainos, said the "digital transformation" is an "example of how processes and systems can be refined, simplified and brought up-to-date to the benefit of both government organisations and their citizens.
"The cross collaboration efforts of the Digital Transformation Service, BT and Kainos have successfully delivered the first element in a larger strategic transformation of IFG services. We're delighted to be part of this exciting development and look forward to delivering benefit to IFG and its users in the future."
Una Savage from Downpatrick Visitor Information Centre said the online system has "transformed the way we work".
"The new paper-free process and automated invoicing saves time and allows us to provide a faster service."
The boss of Kainos, the firm behind the new scheme, is one of the top Northern Ireland business leaders in line for the EY Entrepreneur of the Year.
County Antrim man Brendan Mooney, who hails from just outside Dunloy, joined Belfast-based Kainos back in 1989, when it employed little more than a dozen members of staff.
It's now one of only three Northern Ireland businesses to be listed on the London Stock Exchange. Belfast The IT giant says it will grow its workforce to 1,000 staff this year, as the company posted pre-tax profits of £14.3m during the firm's first full year as a listed company
Earlier this year, fisherman Paul Coffey told the Belfast Telegraph his job is being made more difficult by the EU. He said he feels hampered by "EU meddling", which he says has made an already difficult profession even harder.
"We want out of Europe to control our own seas, our own waters, and to make our own rules," he said.