Further support for Inshore fisheries sector announced
In a meeting with representatives of the Inshore fisheries sector today, Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Charlie McConalogue announced a new round of funding under the Brexit Inshore Fisheries Business Model Adjustment Scheme.
The support scheme which operated in 2022 was put in place to assist inshore fishers in adjusting to the impacts of Brexit on their businesses and delivered on a recommendation of the Report of the Seafood Task Force Navigating Change (October 2021). The scheme was delivered successfully to over 800 eligible applicants. However, given the ongoing challenges faced by the inshore sector, the scheme has been redeveloped and relaunched to offer further support to inshore fishers.
The Minister and inshore representatives also discussed a range of other topics important to the inshore sector, including developments in the hook and line mackerel fishery, North West herring policy and new fishing opportunities for spurdog. The Minister also spoke about his initiative to establish a Brown Crab Working Group in order to review the current arrangements in place for that fishery and to examine management options likely to support the sustainability of brown crab stocks in Ireland.
Announcing the new Scheme, Minister McConalogue said: Our inshore fishers make a significant contribution to our coastal communities and blue economy, but have been significantly impacted by Brexit and the Trade and Cooperation Agreement. While positive steps have been taken to support these fishers, the challenges in terms of operating costs and market access remain.
I am announcing today up to 3.5 million in short-term funding for the sector. This new round of support will bridge the gap for the inshore sector, while longer term measures to strengthen the seafood sector as a whole take effect.
The 2023 support scheme will introduce a suite of new online training modules to be made available by Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM), specifically tailored to the inshore fishing sector which will help these fishers manage costs, increase product quality and reach new customers. The scheme will be open to owners of fishing vessels under 18 metres in length, registered in the polyvalent, polyvalent potting and specific segments. Payments will be made to eligible beneficiaries who complete one of the modules, in order to assist them in implementing changes to their business model. Payment rates remain at 2,700 for owners of vessels under 8 metres in length and 4,000 for owners of vessels between 8 metres and 17.99 metres in length.
Minister McConalogue added: This additional measure for the Inshore sector is part of a wider comprehensive package of supports and development strategies which will transform the seafood industry so that it can continue to develop sustainably. The ongoing investments in promoting inshore stocks in domestic and overseas markets, in developing marine infrastructure and investing in all elements of the seafood supply chain will provide opportunities for inshore fishers. These latest short term supports will allow these fishers to capitalise on these opportunities and navigate through the current challenging environment.
Christopher O'Sullivan TD commenting on the supports says; "For the last 6 months I have been campaigning for further supports for the inshore fishing sector. Im delighted that Minister McConalogue has today announced a support scheme very similar to the last support scheme. Payment rates will be 2,700 for boats under 8m and 4000 for vessels between 8 and 18 metres in length. The inshore sector is such a vital part of coastal communities. We need to continue supporting them. Further details will be available on the BIM website in the coming weeks.
"Hats off NIFA for their persistence on this one."
The Scheme will open in the coming weeks and will be administered by Bord Iascaigh Mhara. Further details will be available from BIM in due course at https://bim.ie/fisheries/funding/
For vessel owners to be eligible, they must demonstrate that they were actively fishing during 2022. The scheme will specify requirements in this respect.
More reaction to follow in our May issue of the Marine Times Newspaper