A memo of the Seafood Sector Task Force Report will be presented to the Cabinet tomorrow
The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Charlie McConalogue, TD, is set to bring a memo of the Seafood Sector Task Force Report before the Cabinet tomorrow to note the report.
The report entitled “Navigating Change – The way forward for our Seafood Sector in the wake of the EU/UK Trade & Cooperation Agreement” was published last month (October 2021) but since publication it has received harsh criticism from sectors of the Irish seafood and fishing industry who believe the report is a sell-out of the industry and does not go far enough to protect the industry in the aftermath of the Trade and Cooperation Agreement.
The UK-EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA) will have a massive impact on EU fisheries and as the dust settled on the Brexit deal, it became clear the Commission pushed the majority of losses from the deal onto the Irish sector once again.
The report claims that the TCA brought a sudden and detrimental shift to entire Irish seafood sector, in a number of respects:
- Irish fleet has lost access to 15% of its annual quota, mainly affecting pelagic stocks, nephrops and whitefish stocks such as megrim, monkfish and haddock
- Irish seafood exports to UK, a key market, worth €80 million pre-Brexit, are impacted
- Irish seafood imports from UK (worth €219 million in 2018), a key input to the Irish retail and processing supply chain, have been disrupted
- Vital seafood export routes, primarily the ’land-bridge’ via the UK, have been curtailed
- Established Irish/UK links at scientific and policy levels in EU and ICES have been lost.
On the back of the TCA, Minister McConalogue established the Seafood Sector Task Force to examine the impacts that results of the TCA would have on the Irish seafood sector and to make recommendations that would contribute to stabilizing the future of the industry.
The interim report at the start of June, suggested a Voluntary Temporary Tie-up Scheme for August through to December but this was not launched until October when the final report was delivered. Many in the industry felt that the scheme was too late in being implemented.
The final report has proposed a brutal round of decommissioning of the Irish fishing fleet through a Voluntary Permanent Cessation Scheme which would see 60 fishing vessels, with close to 30 percent of the whitefish boats being slashed from the fleet, costing jobs both onboard the fishing vessels and on-land jobs in fish processing. The 60 fishing vessels have been offered a pot of €63 million from the Brexit Adjustment Reserve Fund to decommission their vessels, undervaluing each vessel by a four-fifth. No other EU member state has asked their fishing fleet or have been asked to downsize their fishing fleet as a result of the TCA.
The report also attacked the inshore sector proposing to remove inactive tonnage from the register through a Voluntary Permanent Cessation Scheme. Whilst the report acknowledged the contribution of the inshore sector it also needed to address the imbalance between capacity and available fishing opportunities.
The Seafood Sector Task Force Report can be found by clicking here.