The Rural Independent TDs are set to bring forward a motion to the Dail on Wednesday, 25th January, demanding that the government sanction a €12 million direct state financial package to mitigate the socio-economic pressures on the fishing sector and support the vitality of coastal communities.
Michael Collins TD, said that fishers were being hit extremely hard – and that the government had failed to seek funds from the EU available to help the struggling sector.
The Irish inshore fleet, accounting for 91 percent of Ireland’s fishing fleet, is being hit extremely hard by the loss of fish quota, the unfair competition from larger foreign commercial vessels, the ongoing cost-of-living crisis, the war in Ukraine, and record operational costs for the entire sector.”
“The sector is also experiencing a collapse in the processed shrimp and velvet crab market, yet, the government looks the other way and offers no support, despite EU funds available for allocation.”
“Our motion aims to force the government to finally act, by allocating at least €12 million in funds to the inshore shrimp and velvet crab fishermen from the available €285.4 million European Maritime Fisheries and Aquaculture Fund (EMFAF).”
“It is intolerable that funds allocated by the EU Commission have not been apportioned to our inshore fleet, while other EU governments withdraw from these funds, in the form of fuel subsidies to their respective inshore fleets.”
The Cork South West TD said it was “completely unacceptable for the Minister for Marine and the government to ignore the genuine astronomical pressures on these fishermen. In fact, the lack of any financial support for this unique sector is cruel, particularly as up to 3,000 jobs are now in jeopardy in rural coastal communities.”
“Our motion also instructs the government to urgently grant the inshore fishery fleet a greater quota allocation with diversification to other species,”
“The government’s sickeningly insufficient support of our small-scale and inshore fishermen is inexcusable. Instead of assisting our inshore fleet, the government seems solely focused on making quota cuts and placing new detrimental regulatory burdens on these small-scale fishermen.”
“The cost of fuel is hitting the sector hard, demonstrated by a recent BIM report, highlighting that fuel costs have skyrocketed by 114 percent for fishermen over the past year. This cost alone now represents 28 percent of the average fleet’s operating costs.”
“Our motion aims to address this crisis by forcing governmental action, to allot available funds to all impacted inshore boats through the BIM grant porthole system. Doing this would enable an almost instant allocation system to be established providing short-term immediate relief.”
“We are demanding swift government financial support for inshore fishermen. After all, many of these operate using punts of only 16 to 18 feet long, to provide a livelihood for their families during rough weather in tough and dangerous conditions. The government can no longer neglect this small-scale fleet.”