148 million for Irish seafood industry12 June, 2014 –
FOLLOWING months of intense lobbying and negotiation, Minister Simon Coveney has today secured 148 million in EU funds for the period 2014 to 2020 for the development of the Irish seafood industry and the coastal communities that depend upon it.
Welcoming this announcement the Minister said: This funding is more than double the amount that was available to Ireland during the last Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) and will ensure a strong fishing industry in Ireland that can grow expand to meet its potential up to 2020.
‘The new CFP is a major overhaul of the way which fishing is carried out in EU waters, the purpose of which is to provide a framework for the long term sustainability of fish stocks and the whole industry.
‘The fund will provide support for our fishing fleet to meet the challenges of the new discards ban; it will support the development of the seafood processing sector, a sustainable aquaculture industry and the communities that depend on a vibrant seafood industry.
‘I am satisfied the 148 million which I was able to negotiate for Ireland from the new fund will help our seafood industry to develop and maintain long term sustainability and economic strength.
‘This is more than double the amount of funding that was available to Ireland in the last period from 2007 to 2013 and is, I believe, the level of the investment needed to meet the challenges and opportunities facing the Irish seafood industry.’
Ireland must now prepare a programme setting out the arrangements for spending the fund and submit this to the Commission by 20 October 2014.
The Department has been working on the new Operational Programme since 2013 and has engaged with stakeholders on a number of occasions to date.
Further public consultation and strategic environmental assessment will take place over the summer 2014.
The Minister added: ‘We have already being consulting stakeholders on the framework for the new programme.
‘Now that we know the amount of funds we have available we can finalise these consultations and put in place an ambitious programme of support that delivers on the priorities of the fishing industry and other stakeholders.’
Under the new CFP, which was negotiated to completion under the Irish Presidency of the EU in 2013, a European Maritime and Fisheries Fund has now been established to support the delivery of the new policy.
The Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) has welcomed the news, stating that as long as the funding is spent wisely and backed by a pro-active state infrastructure that encourages entrepreneurs, SMEs and family aquaculture businesses around the coast, the EUs new fisheries fund can turn the tide in favour of Irelands seafood industry.
IFAs Aquaculture Section has also welcomed the announcement.
‘The European Commission has placed the development of sustainable aquaculture as its highest priority to address serious employment problems, reinvigorate the economies of coastal areas and displace the influx of imported fish, which now account for over two thirds of consumption by European Consumers,’ said IFA Aquaculture Executive, Richie Flynn.
‘The clear EU commitment to aquaculture in monetary terms must be matched by Government with a renewed vigour at home to cut red tape and remove backlogs in licensing created over many years.
‘IFA has lobbied intensively for a fair share of EU funds for the fish and shellfish farming sector since the current Common Fisheries Policy review began.
‘Now the attention turns home to making sure that companies and individuals with high quality seafood products, new ideas and an ability to create jobs and exports can make the most of this tremendous opportunity.
‘Government must ensure that every cent of EU funding is maximised to ensure the aquaculture sector reaches its true potential and takes advantage of the growing high value market demand for seafood products from Ireland.’
IFA has prioritised capital investment, modernisation, new entrants, and environmental impact mitigation in the forthcoming negotiations on the share-out of the funds at national level.