Written answers

Thursday, 31 March 2022

Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine

Fishing Industry

Photo of Bernard DurkanBernard Durkan (Kildare North, Fine Gael)
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468. To ask the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the extent to which Irish fishing families can rely on the industry for a living in the future having particular regard to the competition; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17299/22]

Photo of Charlie McConalogueCharlie McConalogue (Donegal, Fianna Fail)
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The EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA) will, unfortunately, have an impact on our fishing industry. However, this impact would have been far greater had the Barnier Task Force agreed to UK demands, or had we been in a no-deal scenario which would have seen all EU vessels barred from UK waters and subsequent displacement into Ireland's fishing zone.

I established the Seafood Sector Task Force in March 2021 to examine the impacts of the TCA on our fishing sector and coastal communities and to make recommendations to me on a mitigation strategy. I received the Report of the Seafood Task Force in October and it recommends some 16 support schemes at a cost of €423 million. These recommendations are being urgently progressed with regard to State Aid approval, eligibility under the EU Brexit Adjustment Reserve and the Public Spending Code. A number of the schemes have already been put in place.

In addition to the measures recommended by the Task Force, my Department’s €240 million European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF) Programme 2014-20 has been operating since 2016, supporting the sustainable development of our seafood sector. The Programme has been providing a wide range of financial supports to fisheries, aquaculture and seafood processing enterprises and to enterprises, groups and individuals in coastal communities. These include supports for capital investment, innovation, professional advisory services and marketing. Through these measures, the Programme has been fostering the economic development of the seafood industry and coastal communities, building value and growing exports in these enterprises. The EMFF Programme is now coming to an end and a new Seafood Development Programme 2021-27 is being prepared by my Department, with the aim of its adoption by the European Commission by end 2022.

I can assure the Deputy that this Government is committed to addressing the challenges facing our seafood sector following the TCA. I am pursuing all opportunities at EU level to help address the unequal burden sharing whereby Ireland carries an excessive burden of the EU quota transfers to the UK including in the CFP review which is currently in progress.

The Programme for Government sets down an ambitious programme of actions that promote a sustainable seafood industry and I am committed to working to continue to build on the progress that has been made to secure a sustainable future for our fishing industry and the coastal communities which depend upon it.


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