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First Industry-Led Strategy for the Irish Inshore Fisheries Sector Launched by Minister

The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed TD, today launched the ‘Strategy for the Irish Inshore Fisheries Sector 2019-2023’ on behalf of the National Inshore Fisheries Forum. The Strategy will frame the work of the Inshore Fisheries Forums over the next number of years and represents the first time the Inshore Fisheries Sector has developed its own sector-specific plan.

The Strategy sets out a vision for the future of the inshore sector, that it “will have a prosperous and sustainable future delivered through a united industry with a strong and influential voice”. The Irish inshore sector comprises fishing boats of less than 12 metres in overall length, which are predominately active within six nautical miles of the Irish shore. These boats, approximately 80% of the Irish fishing fleet, operate from communities all around the Irish coast and support an estimated 2,500 to 3,000 jobs.

The Strategy presents four Main Themes which cover the Organisation and Profile of the Inshore Sector; the Management of inshore resources; the Infrastructure and Resources available to the inshore sector and the Profitability of the sector. Specific objectives are set for each of these themes which focus on building the sector up in terms of its own identity including its people, resources and infrastructure to create a strong Inshore Fisheries industry for the future. Key issues to be addressed through the Strategy include enhancing business skills across the sector, sustainable management of key fish stocks as well as attracting and retaining talent, all with a view to maximising the potential of this sector to support Ireland’s coastal communities.

Launching the Strategy, Minister Creed commented: “I am delighted to launch this strategy, and I would like to commend the work done by all those involved in developing it, particularly the members of the Inshore Fisheries Forums who contributed to this significant landmark step. The National Inshore Fisheries Forum has recognised in this Strategy that the Inshore Sector needs a strong sense of identity and that there is strength in building cohesion and working towards common goals. This Strategy gives them a clear blueprint for the future.”

The development of a strategy for the Irish inshore fisheries sector was identified as a priority by the National Inshore Fisheries Forum in 2017. The National and Regional Inshore Fisheries Forums were established to facilitate the development of a coherent inshore sector “voice” by encouraging inshore fishermen to discuss their fishing issues and generate commonly-supported initiatives. Since their inception, the Forums have developed initiatives seeking to protect the future of a sector which is extremely important for Irish coastal communities.

The Strategy was developed through an extensive and inclusive process, which included both industry-focused and wider public consultation. A Steering Group, made up of industry and State partners, including representatives of the National Inshore Fisheries Forum, oversaw the development of the Strategy. The Strategy development was co-funded by the Government of Ireland and the European Union under Ireland’s European Maritime and Fisheries Fund Operational Programme.

Implementation of the Strategy will be led by Bord Iascaigh Mhara, in partnership with the National Inshore Fisheries Forum and the inshore sector. BIM will work closely with the Forum to prepare an implementation plan for the Strategy and to identify the objectives and actions that will be prioritised. This process will facilitate the targeting of financial support available under the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund to programmes and initiatives where it can be used most effectively.