Minister for the Marine Charlie McConalogue TD, says he is keeping rising fuel costs in the fishing industry "under constant review"

Minister for the Marine Charlie McConalogue TD, says he is keeping rising fuel costs in the fishing industry “under constant review”

The Minister of Agriculture Food and the Marine, Charlie McConalogue has answered a written question from Sinn Féin TD, and Fisheries Spokesperson Padraig Mac Lochlainn in relation to the energy crisis fund to support fishermen.

The Minister is currently using money from the Brexit Adjustment Reserve Fund (BAR) to finance a Voluntary Tie-up Scheme for some of the Irish fleet, but other vessels that do not qualify for the scheme have to keep fishing, whilst other vessels must return to sea. The current cost of fuel for the fishing industry hit a high of €1.20 per litre yesterday on the east coast but the Minister and his Department has yet to take action on supports.

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Despite the fact the EU Commission has cleared the way for such supports pending its approval, the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine has not submitted any proposal documentation. Instead, the Minister has said he is keeping the situation “under review”

In a written question to the Minister of the Marine, Deputy Mac Lochlainn asked:

“To ask the Minister for Agriculture; Food and the Marine when he will sign off the energy crisis fund to support fishermen with ever increasing operating costs and send these proposals to the EU Commission for approval; the reason he has not signed off before; and if he will make a statement on the matter.”

Minister McConalogue replied:

“Since the publication of the Report of the Seafood Task Force – Navigating Change (October 2021), I have announced a number of support schemes for our fishing fleet and wider seafood sector and coastal communities.Over October to December 2021, a Brexit Temporary Fleet Tie-up Scheme made available supports of €4,600 up to €88,700 per month depending on vessel size for vessels to tie-up for a calendar month.  Vessels in the Rockall squid fishery could tie-up for 2 months at these rates.  In total, some 179 vessels availed of this scheme at a cost of €10 million.I introduced this tie-up scheme again last month and it will operate until October or November this year.  To further assist the fishing fleet in these difficult times, I am allowing each vessel to receive aid for 2 months in 2022.  Already, some 67 vessels availed of the scheme for the month of June.  The scheme remains open at present for July tie-up and demand is continuing to be strong. For the inshore fleet, a Brexit Inshore Fisheries Business Model Adjustment Scheme operated over January to March and was availed of by 754 inshore fishing vessel owners at a cost of €2.5 million.  The scheme provided aid of €2,700 to owners of vessels under 8 metres and €4,000 to owners of vessels of 8 to 18 metres.  Each participant was provided with a suite of 4 training modules to assist them in adjusting their business to the post Brexit environment.  In addition, a Brexit Inshore Marketing Scheme is underway and is investing €600,000 in 2022 in promoting stocks of interest to inshore fishers to support prices at the quayside.Separately, a €45 million Brexit Processing Capital Support Scheme is open for applications at present, with the aim of supporting the seafood processing sector to engage in transformational change, mitigating the effects of Brexit, and assisting the sector to move further up the supply chain to produce higher value seafood products.  Grants of up to 50% for capital investment are available.  

For coastal communities, a €25 million Brexit Blue Economy Enterprise Development Scheme is open for applications and aims to counter the adverse economic and social consequences of Brexit on businesses operating in the blue economy in our coastal regions. The scheme offers aid of up to €200,000 for capital investments and also offers aid for training and mentoring.

Further support schemes are anticipated in coming months, including a voluntary decommissioning scheme, subject to State Aid clearance.In relation to the impacts of increased energy costs arising from the Russian aggression against Ukraine, Government is acutely conscious of the impacts across the economy.  This matter is being kept under constant review and is the subject of ongoing consultation with representatives of our seafood sector.”

Brian J McMullin Solicitors
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