Thursday, 29 April 2021
Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine
Covid-19 Pandemic Supports
165. To ask the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if he plans to reopen the Covid-19 aquaculture support scheme in view of the continuing crisis due to Covid-19,which has seriously affected the aquaculture market; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22482/21]
166. To ask the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine his plans to provide special extra support to the farmed oyster sector in 2021 in view of the effect of Covid-19 on the market; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22483/21]
I propose to take Questions Nos. 165 and 166 together.
Aquaculture enterprises with a 30% reduction in turnover because of Covid-19 have been eligible to apply to Revenue under the Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme, an economy-wide enterprise support that focuses primarily on business eligibility. The scheme provides a flat-rate subsidy to qualifying employers based on the numbers of eligible employees on the employer’s payroll and their gross pay. The Pandemic Unemployment Payment has also been available to self-employed aquaculture farmers whose trading income has ceased or reduced to €960 over a rolling 8-week period, or aquaculture employees laid off because of the Pandemic. These measures continue to be available to all sectors of our economy at very considerable cost.
My Department implemented a Covid-19 Aquaculture Support Scheme in the second half of 2020 under its European Maritime and Fisheries Fund Programme. This scheme was designed to address the needs for support identified by the IFA, specifically for the shellfish farming sector. The Scheme was open to rope mussel and oyster producers and provided a fixed payment based on enterprise size (in terms of historic production levels).
Payments were calculated to compensate for lost sales arising from the Pandemic over the period February to June 2020 and ranged from €1,300 for the smallest rope mussel producers to €9,000 for the largest, while for oyster producers who have higher costs of production, payments ranged from €6,800 for the smallest producers to €16,300 for the largest. Some 152 aquaculture enterprises benefitted from the scheme at a cost of €1.2 million, with a further 4 applications under consideration within BIM. The Scheme was well received by the IFA and the aquaculture sector.