The Authority is an executive Non-Departmental Public Body (executive NDPB) sponsored by the Fisheries Division of the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs.
The Authority is a statutory body established in 1973 under the Harbours Act (NI) 1970 and the Northern Ireland Fishery Harbour Authority Order (NI) 1973 and is responsible for the three fishing harbours and harbour estates of Ardglass, Kilkeel and Portavogie. The Authority is a relatively small public body employing a total of 21 people at the three harbours and at its head office, which is located in Downpatrick.
The primary functions of the Authority are:
- To manage and maintain and improve the harbours and harbours estates
- To operate such facilities as may be provided at the harbours
- To dredge and maintain the harbour channels and entrances
- To lease, dispose of or develop land vested in the Authority
- To make Bye-Laws to control the day-to-day running of the harbours and associated facilities.
The Authority is a key service provider to its main principle customer groups, namely fishing vessel owners/skippers and the tenants of the three harbour estates.
The Authority has 5 key areas of operation:
- The provision of safe harbour and berthing facilities (including dredger operation)
- The provision, operation and management of hygienic fishmarket facilities
- The provision of ice supplies
- The provision of vessel slipway facilities
- Estate management and development
The Authority is managed by a Board consisting of a Chairman, the Chief Executive and between 4 and 8 other Members. The Chairman and Members are appointed by DARD and are non-executive.
The Board has four sub-committees – Audit, Corporate Planning, Finance and General Purposes and Remuneration. The Audit sub-committee provides objective advice to the Chief Executive and the Board on corporate governance, risk management and internal control issues.
The Authority is headed by a Chief Executive who is also the Accounting Officer. The Authority’s head office is located in Downpatrick and there are offices at each of the three harbours.