Written answers

Thursday, 31 March 2022

Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine

Fishing Industry

Photo of Ruairi Ó MurchúRuairi Ó Murchú (Louth, Sinn Fein)
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134. To ask the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the supports available for the Irish fishing fleet given the rising cost of fuel pressures on the sector; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16685/22]

Photo of Charlie McConalogueCharlie McConalogue (Donegal, Fianna Fail)
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I am acutely conscious of the impact on fishers of the significant increases in the price of marine diesel. I heard directly from representative groups at recent meetings about the impacts of the high fuel prices on the profitability of fishing. The Government is also very conscious of the impacts of high fuel costs on many other sectors of the economy.

On 23 March 2022, the European Commission published its ‘Temporary Crisis Framework for State Aid measures to support the economy following the aggression against Ukraine by Russia’. The purpose of the Temporary Crisis Framework is to specify the criteria for the assessment by the Commission of the compatibility with the internal market of State Aid measures that Member States may take to remedy the economic effects arising from the war and related market disruption. The Framework provides that the Commission will consider temporary limited amounts of aid to undertakings affected to be compatible with the internal market provided that certain conditions are met. A State Aid Notification is required for any measure proposed.

In relation to primary producers in the fisheries and aquaculture sectors, the Framework provides a State Aid basis for Member States to propose in a State Aid Notification a support scheme for undertakings affected, granting aid no later than 31 December 2022 and to a maximum of €35,000 per undertaking. Of course, such a scheme has to demonstrate that the aid proposed is proportionate to the impacts on the undertakings concerned.

Separately, on 25 March 2022, the European Commission adopted a Commission Decision under article 26 of the European Maritime Fisheries and Aquaculture Fund Regulation (2021/1139), recognising in accordance with that article the Ukraine war as an 'exceptional events causing a significant disruption of markets'. That Commission Decision facilitates Member States in using, if they so choose, article 26 as a basis to make available compensation under their EMFAF Programmes to operators in the fisheries and aquaculture sectors for their income foregone or additional costs related to the exceptional event, or alternatively to provide aid to producer organisations for storage aid, a market support mechanism that aids the freezing and cold storage of fish in periods of market turbulence and its subsequent release to the market when matters improve. Related to implementation of the article 26 measures, the Commission is presently preparing a working paper on methodologies to calculate income foregone and additional costs.

The Commission has also stated that it is examining a possible legislative proposal for an amendment of the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund Regulation (508/2014) to facilitate Member States in using remaining funds in their EMFF Programmes for the 2014-20 period for this same purpose.

I await the detail of the Commission working paper and possible proposals for EMFF amendment and will review the situation further at that point, with full regard to the trends in market prices for marine diesel.


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