For Written Answer on : 26/07/2022
Question Number(s): 2060 Question Reference(s): 39656/22
Department: Agriculture, Food and the Marine
Asked by: David Stanton T.D.
To ask the Minister for Agriculture; Food and the Marine if his Department is considering a subsidy scheme similar to that introduced in France, to support the Irish fishing fleet in compensating for the increased price of fuel; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
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 two 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 in May and it will operate until November this year. To further assist the fishing fleet in these difficult times, I am allowing each vessel to receive aid for two months in 2022. Already, some 67 vessel owners received aid of €4.3 million for the month of June and a further 43 vessel owners received aid of €2.4 million for the month of July.
For the inshore fleet, a Brexit Inshore Fisheries Business Model Adjustment Scheme operated over January to March and was availed of by 771 inshore fishing vessel owners at a cost of €2.5 million. The scheme provided aid of €2,700 to owners of vessels under eight metres and €4,000 to owners of vessels of 8 to 18 metres. 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. I recognise that the seafood sector is facing particular challenges, arising from the combination of Brexit and increased energy costs.
On 6th July, I met with representatives of the fishing, aquaculture and processing sectors to discuss a number of important issues facing our seafood sector, including Brexit and increased energy costs. The meeting gave me the opportunity to engage directly with industry representatives and to hear first-hand their concerns and priorities. I will continue to engage with industry representatives on these priority matters.