MR ROBIN SWANN MLA, Ulster Unionist Party Assemblyman and his party’s candidate for Westminster for North Antrim has challenged the Sinn Fein Culture Minister to “give a cast iron guarantee that the Bushmills Salmon Research Station will have a secure, long-term future”.
Assemblyman Swann, who is UUP Chief Whip, is a Past President of the Young Farmers’ Clubs of Ulster and Past Chairman of the influential Rural Youth Europe organization.
Mr Swann’s challenge came when he asked the Sinn Fein Minister of Culture, Arts and Leisure when the lease on the Salmon Research Station in Bushmills will expire.
The Minister told Mr Swann that “the current lease of the Bushmills Salmon Research Station expires on 28 February 2029”.
This prompted Mr Swann to further question the Minister to detail her long-term funding and support plan for the Salmon Research Station in Bushmills.
Responding to Mr Swann, the Minister said: “DCAL operates a fish farm and hatchery at the River Bush Salmon Station, which provides assistance to the River Bush Salmon Research Project.
“The project was set up in 1972 and is a long term programme of research investigating both the sea water and fresh water phases of the lifecycle of the wild Atlantic salmon (salmo salar).
“The long-term dataset established is a key component of the management of salmon rivers in the DCAL area.
“The research programme has led to the recognition of the River Bush as an index river by the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES).
“My Department places a high priority on continuing this research, however, the long-term funding and support for the Research Station will be dependent on the provision of an annual budget allocation to the Department,” the Minister told Assemblyman Swann.
Reacting to the Minister’s responses, Mr Swann added: “I will monitor the situation very closely to ensure the Sinn Fein Minister provides the necessary guarantees which will ensure the long-term viability of this much-needed Research Station.”