Calls for €12m fund to help inshore fishing industry
The Government is to be asked to give Ireland’s inshore fishers more than €12m to help them deal with the disruption to their markets caused by the war in Ukraine and the pandemic.
The market in shrimp, for example, has collapsed, with one group of around 600 smaller inshore fishers losing an estimated total of €5m in the build-up to last Christmas.
Their representatives have seen more than €100m in packages to help the much larger, offshore sector boat owners deal with the negative impacts of Brexit, which is mainly the cut in quota and resulting 40% fall in income.
But they say that despite having 91% of the country’s entire fishing fleet, and employing the majority of Irish fishers, Ireland’s inshore sector has, by comparison, received around €3.7m.
As recommended by the Seafood Task Force set up by Agriculture Minister Charlie McConalogue, one-off payments of €2,700 for owners of vessels under 8m and €4,000 for owners of vessels between 8m and 17.99m in length were made.
Michael Desmond, chairman of the National Inshore Fishermen's Association.
Many of the country’s 1,700 inshore fishermen, who predominantly fish for lobster, crab, shrimp, and whelks and who fish in bays and within a six-mile limit of the coast in boats smaller than 12m, say they need more direct funding if they are to survive.
Other issues the inshore fishing industry is concerned about is the way they cannot claim the Vat back on the petrol they use in their outboard motors, while the owners of the bigger, offshore boats can claim the Vat back on the marine diesel they use.
Michael Desmond, a Cork-based National Inshore Fishermen's Association director, said: “We see other sections of the fishing industry in Ireland getting help from the Government, and we could hardly begrudge them for that.
We desperately need financial supports to keep the industry viable."
Most people’s perception of the Irish fishing industry is of the big boats moored in places like Castletownbere in Co Cork and Killybegs, in Co Donegal.
“But while there are around 2,000 active fishing vessels in Ireland, at least 1,700 of them are small, inshore fishing boats who work from hundreds of small piers all around the country," said Mr Desmond.
The Rural Independent Group will this Wednesday demand a financial support package for inshore fishers. They are bringing forward a motion to the Dail, demanding the Government sanction a €12m direct state financial package to “mitigate the socio-economic pressures on the sector and support the vitality of coastal communities”.
Rural Independent TD for Cork South-West, Michael Collins, said: “The Irish inshore fleet is being hit extremely hard by the loss of fish quota, the unfair competition from larger foreign commercial vessels, the ongoing cost-of-living crisis, the war in Ukraine and record operational costs for the entire sector.
“The sector is also experiencing a collapse in the processed shrimp and velvet crab market, yet, the Government looks the other way and offers no support, despite EU funds available for allocation.”
Mr McConalogue and his officials are looking at extra financial supports for the inshore fishing industry. Last December, for example, he announced an extra €18.9m funding for coastal projects, including repairs to piers all over the country.
Under the Local Authority Marine Infrastructure Scheme (BALAMI) 2022-2023, there has been total funding allocation of €55.3m for 164 projects.
Source: Irish Examiner
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