Wednesday, 19 May 2021
Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine
182. To ask the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if he will address matters in relation to the purchase of new fishing vessels (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26770/21]
In February 2021, I established the Seafood Sector Taskforce to examine the implications arising from the Trade and Cooperation Agreement agreed between the European Union and the UK for the Irish Fishing industry and coastal communities particularly dependent upon it and to recommend initiatives that could be taken to provide supports for development and restructuring so as to ensure a profitable and sustainable fishing fleet and to identify opportunities for jobs and economic activity in coastal communities dependent on fishing. I await the recommendations of the Taskforce.
In preparing its report, I have asked the Taskforce to consider how all available funding streams could be used to address, to the extent possible, the initiatives identified and the State agencies to support those initiatives. The proposed Brexit Adjustment Reserve may be an important element in the implementation of the recommendations, as may my Department’s forthcoming Seafood Development Programme 2021-27 under the European Maritime Fisheries and Aquaculture Fund and indeed other funding sources may also be relevant.
I note that under the draft European Maritime Fisheries and Aquaculture Fund Regulation, which is expected to be enacted by July 2021, aid is not permitted for the purchase of a fishing vessel, with an exception allowed only for the first acquisition of a vessel under 24 metres by a person under the age of 40 years.
I also note that any aid under the Brexit Adjustment Reserve is subject to EU state aid approval and Commission guidance indicates that it will not approve aid for measures that are ineligible for support under the European Maritime Fisheries and Aquaculture Fund.