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Creed Reluctant to use EU Aid to Ease Pandemic-Associated Crisis Hitting Fishing & Aquaculture

19th April 2020
Marine Minister Michael Creed Marine Minister Michael Creed

Frustration is building around the coastline over a reluctance by Minister for Marine Michael Creed to avail of EU funding to ease the negative impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the fishing and fish farming industries.

As The Sunday Times reports, a European Commission scheme was signalled almost a month ago to soften the dramatic economic blow.

The European Commission temporary relief scheme - rubberstamped on Friday by the European Parliament - allows EU member states flexibility to divert existing structural funds into compensation packages, including fleet tie-ups.

Portugal and Latvia are among the first states to secure European Commission sanction for multimillion-euro schemes, while departed member Britain announced a £10 million specific package last week, with £ 1.5 million for Northern Ireland.

However, Mr Creed has said he is not proposing a tie-up scheme for Irish fishing vessels at present.

The department said that a fleet tie-up would be kept “in reserve”, but Mr Creed’s “main focus at this point is to work to continue to support the supply of food”.

He has been criticised for inaction by Ireland South Green Party MEP Grace O’Sullivan, who said that “ Europe is being proactive in opening channels of funding and support”.

She warned that Mr Creed must “not only... demand a fair share of the funding, but he must distribute it throughout the country and not focus it in one or two geographical areas”.

The Irish whitefish and inshore fleets and fish and shellfish farmers face millions of euro in losses due to a collapse in prices for fresh produce and loss of high-value restaurant markets, exacerbated by disrupted supply chains.

Read more in The Sunday Times here

Published in Aquaculture, Fishing
Lorna Siggins

About The Author

Lorna Siggins

Email The Author

Lorna Siggins is a print and radio reporter, and a former Irish Times western correspondent. She is the author of Everest Callling (1994) on the first Irish Everest expedition; Mayday! Mayday! (2004) on Irish helicopter search and rescue; and Once Upon a Time in the West: the Corrib gas controversy (2010).

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Irish Aquaculture - Information

Aquaculture is the farming of animals in the water and has been practised for centuries, with the monks farming fish in the middle ages. More recently the technology has progressed and the aquaculture sector is now producing in the region of 50 thousand tonnes annually and provides a valuable food product as well as much needed employment in many rural areas of Ireland.

A typical fish farm involves keeping fish in pens in the water column, caring for them and supplying them with food so they grow to market size. Or for shellfish, containing them in a specialised unit and allowing them to feed on natural plants and materials in the water column until they reach harvestable size. While farming fish has a lower carbon and water footprint to those of land animals, and a very efficient food fed to weight gain ratio compared to beef, pork or chicken, farming does require protein food sources and produces organic waste which is released into the surrounding waters. Finding sustainable food sources, and reducing the environmental impacts are key challenges facing the sector as it continues to grow.

Salmon is the most popular fish bought by Irish families. In Ireland, most of our salmon is farmed, and along with mussels and oysters, are the main farmed species in the country.

Aquaculture in Ireland

  • Fish and shellfish are farmed in 14 Irish coastal counties.
  • Irish SMEs and families grow salmon, oysters, mussels and other seafood
  • The sector is worth €150m at the farm gate – 80% in export earnings.
  • The industry sustains 1,833 direct jobs in remote rural areas – 80% in the west of Ireland
  • Every full-time job in aquaculture creates 2.27 other jobs locally (Teagasc 2015)
  • Ireland’s marine farms occupy 0.0004% of Ireland’s 17,500Km2 inshore area.
  • 83% of people in coastal areas support the development of fish farming
  • Aquaculture is a strong, sustainable and popular strategic asset for development and job creation (Foodwise 2025, National Strategic Plan, Seafood
  • Operational Programme 2020, FAO, European Commission, European Investment Bank, Harvesting Our Ocean Wealth, Silicon Republic, CEDRA)
    Ireland has led the world in organically certified farmed fish for over 30 years
  • Fish farm workers include people who have spent over two decades in the business to school-leavers intent on becoming third-generation farmers on their family sites.

At A Glance - Irish Aquaculture

  • Fish and shellfish are farmed in 14 Irish coastal counties
  • Salmon is the most popular fish bought by Irish families. 
  • In Ireland, most of our salmon is farmed, and along with mussels and oysters, are the main farmed species in the country.
  • The industry sustains 1,833 direct jobs in remote rural areas – 80% in the west of Ireland
  • Every full-time job in aquaculture creates 2.27 other jobs locally (Teagasc 2015)
  • Ireland’s marine farms occupy 0.0004% of Ireland’s 17,500Km2 inshore area.
  • 83% of people in coastal areas support the development of fish farming

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