Speaking from Strasbourg where the Lovin Report on Eel Fisheries is being debated, Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson commented:

“Lough Neagh enjoys Protected Geographical Indication Status. It is the largest commercial wild Eel fishery in Europe and there is no other Eel fishery which is similarly structured and managed.

“Over 300 families in the locality are dependent on the Lough Neagh Eel fishery. Lough Neagh Fishermen’s Co-operative has developed the most sustainable Eel fisheries in Europe.

“All involved with the fishery recognise the importance of conserving Eel stocks and voluntarily administer additional regulation ensuring sustainable fishing practices.

“For more than 40 years Co-Op members have invested over £4 million in the purchase and restocking of glass Eels.

“It is important to improve European Eel stock recovery; hence leading Eel experts within the Agri-Food and Bioscience Institute are currently researching the biological assessment of stocking.

“However no proposal which impacts directly on individuals, businesses and communities should be introduced until an impact assessment based on independent scientific advice has been completed.