Irish trawler owners will be eligible for a payment of up to €89,000 for keeping their vessels in port for one month, under a Brexit mitigation scheme approved by the European Commission on Friday.
The scheme is designed to mitigate the impact of redrawn fisheries quotas on the Irish fleet after Brexit, and will run for three months from October to December this year, Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue said on Friday.
Payments, which can only be claimed once per vessel, range from €4,600 for a trawler under 10 metres, up to €88,700 for a ship between 24 metres and 40 metres.
The aim of the scheme, which is planned to cover around 220 vessels, is to allow those in fisheries to retain their income, while boats that are put to sea will be able to share greater amounts of the remaining quota between them. The scheme will be administered by Bord Iascaigh Mhara.
A scheme similar to this was recommended by the Seafood Sector Task Force in its June 2021 interim report, and is targeted at white-fish vessels who catch species such as whiting, haddock, hake, megrim, prawns and monkfish.
Donegal TD Mr McConalogue said Ireland was set to lose around 26,412 tonnes of quota per year on a phased basis up to 2026, valued at some €43 million annually.
“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 was established by the Minister in March, recommending that a temporary fleet tie-up scheme should be implemented for the whitefish fleet to make best use of the reduced quota available in 2021.
The scheme will see the vessels tie up at the quayside and cease all fishing activity for the month concerned.
“In return, the vessel owner would receive a payment compensating for the lost fishing income. The vessel owners will in turn be required to distribute one third of that payment to crew.”
State aid clearance for the scheme was required by the European Commission, and was confirmed on Friday.
A taskforce examining the future of the seafood sector after Brexit is continuing its work with an aim to produce a final report for the Minister outlining the arrangements for a voluntary decommissioning scheme or other initiatives to tackle the implications of the Brexit deal, as well as other strategies targeted at assisting coastal communities dependent on the seafood industry.