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Additional EMFAF schemes launched to support the capital investment in aquaculture and skills development in the seafood sector

Minister McConalogue TD has announced the opening of two new schemes under the €258 million Seafood Development Programme, co-funded by the Government of Ireland and the EU under the European Maritime, Fisheries and Aquaculture Fund 2021-2027 (EMFAF). These new schemes are in addition to the four schemes which opened on the 25 June, and will open for applications on Monday 1st July.

The Aquaculture Capital Investment Scheme will provide grant aid to support capital investment in the aquaculture sector. These investments will enable the sustainable growth of aquaculture operators; will encourage the entry into the sector of new aquaculture operators; and will support the evolution of smaller operators, allowing them to scale-up, and boost their competitiveness. This scheme supports the objectives set out in the National Strategic Plan for Sustainable Aquaculture Development (NSPSA).

The Seafood Training Scheme will provide assistance to those working in the sector who wish to develop their skills and knowledge through attendance at recognised training and education courses. It assists with costs associated with the training, such as exam fees.

Announcing the opening of these schemes, the Minister said: “I am pleased to announce the launch of these two further schemes under EMFAF, the European Maritime, Fisheries and Aquaculture Fund. The aquaculture sector in Ireland is a significant contributor to national seafood production and food security. The sector has grown significantly in recent decades, and now produces approximately 40,000 tonnes of high value shellfish and finfish, employing around 1,800 people in coastal communities.

The Aquaculture Capital Investment Scheme will allow operators to build on the investment supports provided to them under the Brexit Sustainable Aquaculture Growth Scheme, funded under the Brexit Adjustment Reserve, and the Sustainable Aquaculture Scheme, funded under the previous cohesion fund, the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund.

It is a key enabler for the successful implementation of the National Strategic Plan for Sustainable Aquaculture Development, and will support the sector in maintaining a competitive edge, commercial resilience and optimised environmental performance through low impact production methods, technical innovation and diversification.”

The Minister continued: “The Seafood Training Scheme will provide the necessary practical assistance to those working in the seafood sector to develop the skills and knowledge they need to support all aspects of their work. Whether that be potentially life-saving safety training; fishing vessel engineering skills or fishmonger skills. It also provides support to those wishing to enter employment in the sector, or to develop new career pathways in the sector. Providing these supports helps us to ensure we have a highly skilled, adaptable workforce that have the knowledge and skills they need to meet the requirements of their roles, and to keep pace with new production methods, quality and hygiene standards and diversification within the sector.”

The Minister concluded: “These two new schemes, together with the schemes I announced last week, clearly demonstrate the breadth of supports provided under our EMFAF Seafood Development Programme. They provide the investment needed to support the resilience and sustainability of the seafood sector, both commercial and environmental. They will help to ensure that in the face of challenges such as climate change and ever-changing market conditions, the Irish seafood sector will continue to provide a high quality product and remain competitive in a global market.”

These two schemes are being administered by Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM) Ireland’s seafood development agency, and the schemes will be open for applications from 01 July 2024. All details will be available on www.bim.ie