A £260,000 lobster hatchery is to be built in Co Down in a bid to boost the crustacean population and help sustain the local fishing industry.
The innovative facility in Kilkeel will produce juvenile lobsters for release into the wild.
The Kilkeel Development Association-led project will also double as an educational resource, raising awareness and understanding of lobsters.
Through a partnership with Queen’s University in Belfast, research activities will also be conducted.
The regeneration project is being funded in whole by a grant from the UK Government’s Coastal Communities Fund. It is anticipated to create three jobs and a further eight indirect jobs in the community, while it is hoped it will also contribute to the safeguarding of 140 jobs within the inshore fisheries sector.
In Co Antrim a grant of £186,000 from the fund will see a disused toilet block turned into a coastal centre in Waterfoot.
Among other things, the development will provide retail space for local artists and craft makers to sell their goods. It will create three jobs and is anticipated to support a further three indirect positions within the local economy.
Stormont Environment minister Mark H Durkan, who is responsible for the fund in Northern Ireland, announced the grant awards.
“The Coastal Communities Fund is designed to support the economic development of communities along our coasts,” he said.
“It promotes regeneration and economic growth through projects that directly or indirectly create sustainable jobs and safeguard existing jobs.
“Coastal communities have been shown to be very resourceful and this project is an excellent example of how funding can encourage cross-sector partnerships working together for the benefit of the community and to stimulate local initiative.”
Mr Durkan flagged up that the next round of funding will open soon and urged groups in coastal communities to apply for support.