Cool reception for fishing sector’s tie-up scheme

September 18th, 2021 10:05 PM

By Southern Star Team

Patrick Murphy: unlikely to be anything ‘voluntary’ about any decommissioning scheme.

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A WEST Cork-based fishing organisation has given a very cool reception to the fleet tie-up scheme being proposed by the government to help mitigate the impacts of quota cuts arising out of Brexit. It will run between October and December.

Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue announced the temporary scheme which, he said, delivers on a recommendation of the Seafood Sector Task Force in its June 2021 interim report. The scheme is targeted at white fish vessels in the polyvalent and beam trawl segments.

The Minister said: ‘Arising from the Trade and Cooperation Agreement between the European Union and the UK, Ireland is set to lose 26,412 tonnes of quota per year on a phased basis up to 2026, valued at around €4m.

‘These quota cuts affect many of our most valuable fish stocks and have significant impacts for incomes in our fishing fleet in 2021.

‘The Task Force I established in March has carefully considered this issue and recommended in its June 2021 interim report that a temporary fleet tie-up scheme should be implemented.’

The scheme will invite vessels in the polyvalent and beam trawl segments to tie-up for a one-month period during October to December 2021.

These vessels would tie-up at the quayside and cease all fishing activity for that month.

In return, the vessel owner would receive a payment and would be required to distribute one third of that payment to crew.

Rates range from €4,600 for vessels uner 10m, to €88,700 for those between 24m and 40m.

However, the scheme, administered by Bord Iascaigh Mhara, did not get a welcome reception in West Cork this week.

‘The scheme has a total budget of €10m which is a paltry sum, representing €40m less than what is being “robbed” from our coastal communities each year by the trade agreement of last Christmas,’ said Patrick Murphy of the Irish South and West Fish Producers Organisation (IS&WFPO).

‘This tie-up scheme was required to be submitted to the EU Commission for its prior approval and for a relaxation of Europe’s state aid rules before Ireland could announce the spending of this once-off budget of €10m on our permanently adversely affected fishing fleet of up to 2,000 registered vessels.

‘We feel this announcement of a spend of a paltry €10m this year will come nowhere close to replacing the enormous and permanent losses suffered by our fisheries sector as a result of our native natural resources being used as the bargaining chip by the heads of the EU. This comes at the cost of thousands of Irish jobs, with our island’s coastline being the most rural and remote in the EU,’ he said.

‘What we now fear is that worse is to follow under the guise of a “voluntary” decommissioning scheme that will remove dozens of fishing boats from our fleet and strip our coastline of hundreds of families who will be obliged to migrate to our already overcrowded and overpriced cities.

‘We are sure there will be nothing “voluntary” about any decommissioning scheme,’ Mr Murphy continued.

‘Without an immediate return of the fish that was wrongfully taken from our country, repeating the mistakes made in the Common Fisheries Policy of 1983 and again in 1992, 2002 and 2013, we Irish are left to catch a miserable 15% of fish in our waters. That this 85% of Irish fish is reserved for fishing communities in Spain, France, Belgium and Holland leaves our fishermen forced out of the traditions of fishing that have been passed down from father to son for generations.’

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