THE fishing Covid-19 tie-up scheme is not enough to cover costs for a sector on the brink of collapse, and need to be looked at.
That’s according to Social Democrat Cork South West TD Holly Cairns who has called on Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed to immediately review it.
The party spokesperson for Agriculture said: ‘The scheme is designed to adjust the supply of fish coming onto a currently depressed market and protect quota availability for later in the year; however, many fishing communities have found it unsatisfactory. It became clear from when the scheme was announced that it was not suited to purpose. Representatives of fishing communities contacted me highlighting that it is not sufficient to cover their costs. Fishing is an expensive livelihood from maintenance costs to insurance and safety fees. Their concerns are reflected in reports that very few fishermen will take up this voluntary scheme.’
Deputy Cairns said she was echoing calls from the Irish South and West Fish Producers Organisation and others that the Minister immediately reviews the scheme to ensure that it supports the seafood sector which is on the verge of collapse.
‘I had sought that Minister Creed establish a task force at the beginning of the crisis which could actively produce practical and financial supports which are desperately needed by fishing communities; unfortunately, he chose a different approach. We are now seeing the results of a lack of real engagement with fishermen and their organisations.’
Social Democrat Cork County Cllr Ross O’Connell added: ‘I wrote to Minister Creed requesting that adjustments be made to the scheme that would make it more akin to the French model where the gross earnings of each boat for the average year are considered when calculating what each is due and which facilitates sections of the fleet to be dispatched at certain times in order to continue supplying the market.
‘I also encouraged the Minister to engage directly with the fishing communities himself in order to get a better perspective of their realistic needs during this most challenging of times for the industry.’
Minister Creed’s scheme ranges from €6,000 per month for a maximum of two months for the largest vessels over 24 metres, to €500 per month for a maximum of two months for vessels under six metres in length.
It’s to be available to a maximum of 66% of the fishing fleet, in the different size categories, in any one month and will operate over the calendar months of June, July and August, to coincide with the monthly fisheries quota management periods.