“I am pleased to announce today the implementation of a further recommendation of the Seafood Task Force, designed to assist fisheries cooperatives to overcome the impacts of the reduction in quotas arising from the Trade and Cooperation Agreement. Our Fisheries Co-operatives are an integral part of our fisheries sector, providing essential services for member vessels and significant employment in our coastal communities. The Cooperatives collectively manage the sales and distribution of close to €100 million worth of fish. Over the course of 2021, sales from the co-operatives were reduced by approximately €15 million compared to 2019, translating to a loss of commission for the cooperatives of up to €1.2 million. This caused cash flow difficulties for the cooperatives throughout 2021, limiting their financial capacity to re-configure and re-structure their businesses to adapt to the changed trading environment under the Trade and Cooperation Agreement. The Brexit Fisheries Cooperative Transition Scheme I am announcing today will provide liquidity aid of 7.5% of the reduction in fish sales for the Co-operative’s boats compared to 2019, up to a maximum payment of €250,000 per qualifying Co-operative. The Scheme will be open to fisheries cooperatives that are primarily focused on TCA quota species, i.e. cooperatives whose members’ landings comprise 75% or more TCA quota species”.
Further details of the Scheme will be available from https://bim.ie/fisheries/funding/
In March 2021, Minister McConalogue set up the Seafood Sector Task Force to examine the implications for the Irish Fishing industry and coastal communities particularly dependent upon it arising from the Brexit Trade and Cooperation Agreement, agreed between the European Union and the UK. The Task Force, chaired by Aiden Cotter, was charged with recommending initiatives that could be taken to provide supports for development and restructuring, so as to ensure a profitable and sustainable fishing fleet and to identify opportunities for jobs and economic activity in coastal communities dependent on fishing.
Minister McConalogue received the Report of the Seafood Task Force – Navigating Change on 11 October 2021. The report recommended 16 support schemes at a total estimated cost of €423 million. These stakeholder recommendations are being urgently examined across Government with particular regard to available funds, eligibility of the recommended measures for funding under the EU Brexit Adjustment Reserve and with regard to State Aid rules and the Public Spending Code. This process is very well advanced.
Recommendation of the Task Force concerning the FLAG scheme
Section 126.96.36.199 of the Task Force report stated: “The Task Force acknowledges that the Cooperatives have been directly impacted by the quota transfers under the TCA. In most cases they have challenges, in the short-term, sourcing fish from foreign boats or importing processed fish to sell on. Their sales have been, and will continue to be, impacted significantly by the loss of quota available to their member vessels. Based on the proposal submitted by the four Co-ops, the Task Force considers that this proposal is broadly in line with Section V of the EU BAR State Aid Guidelines for the fishery and aquaculture sector. The Task Force recommends that it should be developed into a fully costed proposal subject to the caveats detailed in section 2.2”.
Brexit Fisheries Cooperative Transition Scheme
This scheme is open to Fisheries Co-operatives, registered with the Registrar of Friendly Societies, whose premises are approved by the Sea-Fisheries Protection Authority under Regulation (EC) No 853 / 2004, and that are primarily focused on TCA quota species and are reliant on the commission earned from landings of their members’ vessels for revenue. For the purposes of this scheme a co-operative is considered to be primarily focused on TCA quota species if the total of its members landings is comprised of 75% or more TCA quota species.