The Seafood Sector Task Force Report has advised on a VPCS for the Irish Inshore Sector
The Seafood Sector Task Force Report has recommended a Voluntary Permanent Cessation Scheme for the Irish inshore fleet to remove inactive tonnage in a restructuring of the fleet.
The report reads:
Supporting, Restructuring and Developing the Inshore Sector
The Task Force acknowledges the importance of the inshore sector to local communities. While large parts of the inshore sector have not been directly impacted by the quota transfers under the TCA, many have been impacted by route to market issues and increased operating costs. These, in combination with a range of non-Brexit related issues relating to the state of certain important shellfish stocks, have led the Task Force to recommend a range of specific initiatives to assist this vulnerable sector. These initiatives include a range of short-term and longer-term measures that aim to return this to a vibrant sector providing employment across coastal communities as well as specific measures to assist in the marketing and processing of catches from inshore vessels.
Inshore Voluntary Permanent Cessation
The Task Force recognises that there are clear indications from the inshore sector that an imbalance between capacity and available fishing opportunities exists that needs to be urgently addressed. Therefore, the Task Force considers a targeted decommissioning scheme would help to rebalance the sector, in combination with the other short-term and longer-term initiatives highlighted.
The Task Force has not had a substantive debate on the details of an inshore decommissioning scheme, so no concrete targets have been set for the level of reduction required. There has also been only limited debate on the structure and level of payment that should be included in any scheme. Consultation with the inshore sector will be required to develop the scheme in its entirety. Additionally, all indications suggest that the serious imbalance in the sector is uniquely exaggerated by the fact that approximately 40% of the registered inshore fleet demonstrate relatively low levels of activity. In time, it is anticipated, that as this capacity changes ownership, economic drivers will lead it to become more active, putting further pressure on existing fishing opportunities. Given the amount of registered capacity that has relatively low levels of activity in existence, consideration should be given to removing some of this “latent” tonnage as a secondary objective of an inshore restructuring scheme.
Recommendation of the Task Force
The Task Force recommends a voluntary permanent cessation scheme targeted at inshore vessels should be developed in consultation with the industry representatives. The objective of this scheme should be to bring the inshore sector back into balance with the available fishing opportunities while ensuring profitability of the sector going forward. Fleet restructuring should be considered in parallel with accompanying management measures.
While no specific targets and level of payment have been agreed, the Task Force recommends a budget of €6 million should be sought to fund this scheme.
The Task Force recommends that, in developing a voluntary permanent cessation scheme, consideration should be given to whether it could be funded under the EMFAF rather than the BAR, given the issues with the inshore sector are wider than the direct impacts of the TCA.
Given it is estimated that as much as 40% of inshore vessels less than 12m are inactive, The Task Force also recommends that an investigation is needed into ways to removing a proportion of this inactive tonnage from the inshore sector. Without addressing this issue, the effectiveness of any voluntary permanent cessation scheme will be lessened.