Irish fishing vessel owners will be eligible for a payment of up to €89,000 to keep their vessels in port for one month, under the Brexit easing scheme approved by the European Commission on Friday.
Agriculture Minister Charlie McConnalog said Friday that the scheme is designed to mitigate the impact of the redrawing of fisheries quotas on the Irish fleet after Brexit, and will run for three months from October to December this year.
Payments, which can only be claimed once per vessel, range from €4,600 for a fishing vessel less than 10m in length, up to €88,700 for a vessel between 24m and 40m in length.
The aim of the scheme, which is slated to cover about 220 vessels, is to allow those working in the fisheries to keep their income, while boats placed at sea will be able to share larger amounts of the remaining quota between them. The project will be managed by Board Yaskaya Mahara.
The Seafood Sector Task Force, in its interim report issued in June 2021, recommended a plan similar to this scheme, and it targets whitefish vessels that catch species such as perch, haddock, hake, migram, shrimp and monkfish.
Donegal TD McConnalog said Ireland will lose about 26,412 tons of quota annually on a gradual basis until 2026, estimated to be worth about €43 million annually.
“These quota cuts affect many of our most valuable fish stocks and have significant impacts on income in our fishing fleet in 2021.”
The Minister established the task force in March, and recommended the implementation of an interim fleet link plan for the white fish fleet to make the best use of the reduced quota available in 2021.
The scheme will see vessels docked at the quayside and all fishing activities will be halted for the month in question.
In return, the vessel owner will receive a compensation payment for the lost fishing income. Shipowners, in turn, will be required to distribute a third of these payments to the crew.”
The European Commission requested state aid authorization for the plan, and it was confirmed on Friday.
A task force looking into the future of the post-Brexit seafood sector continues its work with the aim of producing a final report for the Minister outlining arrangements for the Voluntary Decommissioning Scheme or other initiatives to address the implications of the Brexit deal, among other initiatives. It aims to help coastal communities that depend on the seafood industry.
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