Alex Easton MLA has today called on the Minister for DEARA to create Marine protection areas in Belfast Lough.

Speaking today Alex Easton MLA said:

“It is quite clear that due to commercial fishing in Belfast Lough over many years has decimated many types of fish and wildlife within the Lough. Having spoken to anglers they no longer catch many of the different species they once did due to over fishing by commercial fishing.”

“A clear example of this is the Thornback Ray which was once abundant in Belfast Lough and is now extinct due to commercial fishing. I would love to be able to see these Rays reintroduced to Belfast Lough but in order to do this we would need to a survey done of the Marine life in Belfast lough, the creation of artificial reefs to support and grow fish numbers and, the creation of Marine protection areas around Belfast Lough that cannot be fished by commercial fishing.”

“I believe we have time to fix and protect Belfast Lough in a way that we can reintroduce wildlife such as the Thornback Ray, which can be bred at our own Exploris Aquarium Visitor Centre in Portaferry and reintroduced to Belfast Lough. We can ensure that the area is sustained for anglers to fish which ensuring we grow and protect our Lough but is done in a sustainable way.”

“I fully intend to raise this with the DEARA Minister and have already met with local anglers, submitted NI Assembly questions and will also write to the Minister.”