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Eel Fishers may receive long-awaited compensation

The Sinn Féin MEP for the Midlands North West, Matt Carthy, has welcomed the confirmation he received from the European Commission that the Irish Government has made application for a support scheme for eel fishers. Matt Carthy has been pressing the government to make such an application for several years and has encouraged the commission to favourably consider the application.

Speaking this week, Matt Carthy said: “The European Commission has this week confirmed to me that the Irish Government has informed them of their intention to launch a compensation scheme for eel fishers.

“The Irish Government had been denying for years that there was a possibility to compensate eel fishers affected by the ongoing ban. However last month I received a written confirmation from the European Commission that there were no EU rules blocking them from providing financial relief.

“I subsequently forwarded this response to Minister Creed, and urged him to make use of the legal avenues to provide this relief.

“The ban on eel fishing has been in place since 2009 and has affected thousands of businesses. I have consistently argued that compensation must be given to those affected by the ban who were really given no information as to whether this would be a permanent or temporary measure.

“Last week, the Minister confirmed in response to a parliamentary question from my colleague Martin Kenny TD that he has since written to the European Commission outlining the Government’s intention to fund a support scheme for former eel fishers. I have now received confirmation from the Directorate General for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries (DG MARE) that that this request has been received.

“I have been informed that the scheme for compensation will not fall under the provisions for compensation under the Maritime and Fisheries Fund, therefore will be a purely national scheme. It is my understanding that the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment has provided evidence that EU State Aid rules will not be breached through the execution of this scheme.

“I welcome this move and would call on the Minister to release the full details of this scheme as soon as possible.

“Eel fishers need to know whether they are working towards a one-time payment, or whether there will be temporary measures until stocks recover.

“I would also call on the Minister to give an update to all eel fishers on the preliminary findings, if any, of the Inland Fisheries Ireland scientific study on the medium to longer term potential for recovery of eel stock. This study commenced in 2016 however we have no indication yet as to the extent of the problems with conservation, nor what measures have been taken since 2009 to help stock recover”.