The partial reopening of two of the six main oyster fishing beds in Lough Foyle from December 15-19 will create the potential to catch an additional 25 tonnes, valued at rougly €125,000, according to Joe McHugh, Minister of State at the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources.

“I believe that the Loughs Agency has achieved a good balance between economic opportunity for local fishermen with a dividend for local communities and the conservation imperative. “

He added that sustainability and safeguarding this natural resource were the shared resonsibilities of all stakeholders, including licensed fishermen.

Northern Ireland’s agriculture minister, Michelle O’Neill, added that while she appreciated the importance of management interventions to conserve and maintain oyster stocks, she was mindful of the impact that closure has had on the livelihood of local oystermen, particulary in the run-up to Christmas.

“I am hopeful there will be constructive engagement between the Agency and local fishermen on a range of issues that will safeguard the future of the native oyster in Lough Foyle.”