C: Frank Donovan CCL

Minister confirms 54 fishing families applying to fleet decommissioning scheme

Attempts by the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Charlie McConalogue, to portray applications to a decommissioning scheme for fishermen as a policy success are dramatically wide of the mark, according to Independent TD for West-Cork, Michael Collins.

The scheme which is due to close on 18 November has received 24 applications that have been fully submitted, while a further 30 are at various stages of preparation.

Deputy Collins was speaking after questioning the Minister at a Joint Committee on Agriculture, Food and the Marine debate on the Sustainability Impact Assessment (SIA) for Sea Fisheries. The Independent TD retuned to the decommissioning issue during Priority Questions in the Dáil when he also raised concerns about the lack of supports in place for the energy costs being incurred by the fisheries sector:

“I will never accept the Minister’s attempts to characterise the decommissioning scheme as a great success or as a sign of positive engagement by fishers, when the very reason that such a scheme is necessary is down to years of national political neglect and international concessions to the EU,” said Deputy Collins.

“It should never have been necessary for our own boats to be tied up at the pier while foreign vessels are essentially given free reign.”

“I also find it astonishing that the Minister can sit there, and in all seriousness speak to me about how the decommissioning scheme is being ran concurrently with a series of schemes aimed at creating jobs in the seafood sector and in coastal communities.”

“Can he not hear how absurd that sounds? It is as if he is blissfully unaware of how his own government and the previous government have eroded the very capacity of fishing communities to survive.”

“I am also once again strongly urging the Minister do all that he can to ensure that European Commission’s proposal for the fixing of Total Allowable Catches (TACs) for the coming year includes Blue Fin Tuna and a more equitable quota of Mackerel for our own fishers.”

“Those are concrete measures, along with a credible system of fuel supports that will go some way toward assisting a sector that is in critical need of meaningful interventions,” concluded Deputy Collins.

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