McConalogue meets seafood sector organisations on impacts of energy costs and discusses EU fisheries negotiations on quota setting for 2023 energy transition fleet emfaf

Minister for the Marine, Charlie McConalogue, has committed to funding the energy transition for the Irish fishing fleet through the EMFAF

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Charlie McConalogue, TD has said that the energy transition required for the Irish fishing fleet will be funded through the EMFAF 2021-2027.

The Minister made the commitment in answer to a question from Sinn Féin’s Spokesperson on Fisheries and the Marine, Deputy Pádraig Mac Lochlainn asked if the initiatives he intends taking and the funding he intends applying for in the context of climate action measures to move the Irish fishing fleet away from dependence on fossil fuels for operating their vessels and towards electric and renewable energy sources; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

In a written response the Minister said:

“I recognise the importance of energy transition for the Irish fishing fleet. The temporary spike in fuel prices experienced last year in the wake of the Russian invasion of Ukraine highlighted the need to reduce the fleet’s dependence on fossil fuels to ensure the sector can remain profitable and economically sustainable. The need to respond to climate change has emphasised the need for the sector to become more environmentally sustainable.

“The possibilities to substitute fossil fuels for renewable or low carbon fuels faces significant barriers and need greater exploration. While longer term possibilities of substitution of fossil fuels are being explored, I am taking immediate action through supporting the improvement of energy efficiency for the Irish fleet. Under my Department’s EMFAF Seafood Development Programme 2021-2027, actions have been included to improve energy efficiency and reduce carbon emissions in the Irish Fleet. This will be supported through making funding available for the replacement or modernisation of vessel engines and supporting the adoption of more fuel-efficient fishing gears on board fishing vessels. Outside of direct supports, funding is also made available for research in the area of reducing carbon emissions.

“Beyond fleet development, the Climate Action Plan 2023 contains two specific actions on this issue for my Department:

1) to develop a roadmap for the efficient upgrading of existing infrastructure within the Fishery Harbour Centres and

2) to reduce fossil fuel dependency/consumption across Fishery Harbour Centre infrastructure.

“The Fishery Harbours and Coastal Infrastructure Development Programme for 2023 includes projects to upgrade existing lighting and heating systems in Fishery Harbour Centres. This includes €450,000 for Energy Saving Measures in Killybegs and €100,000 for similar works in Castletownbere. The provision of improved electrical shore power is expected to further reduce the consumption of fossil fuels by fishing vessels within the Fishery Harbour Centres. A key investment already in situ is the ‘Cold Ironing’ project at Killybegs which was part funded by the Irish Government and EMFF Seafood Development Programme at a cost of €1.7 million. That project is expected to save up to 2,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions per year and puts Killybegs at the forefront of having such technology.”

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