Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, Sean Connick, T.D. has formally launched a new programme of financial support to assist fishermen upgrade critical life-saving, fire-fighting, and other safety equipment on-board their fishing boats.
The delivery of the scheme is projected to provide up to €3 million of funding over the next five years, subject to budgetary provisions. The scheme will be administered by Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM), the Irish Sea Fisheries Board. In addition to fishing boats, the scheme also provides for the purchase of 'on-board' safety equipment for registered vessels used for sea-angling and other forms of marine tourism.
Speaking at the launch in Wexford, Minister Connick explained the importance of this timely scheme. "I am only too aware of the pain and suffering that is caused to the families and our coastal communities as a result of accidents at sea. We were unfortunately reminded of the dangers of the sea again this weekend with the news of the accident off Helvic Head yesterday. It is imperative that we do all in our power to prevent further accidents and especially casualties and one of these preventative measures includes ensuring our fishing fleet is operating to the best safety standards. This new scheme will enable up to 800 vessels to modernise their onboard safety equipment to further protect fishing crew. However, it is not enough to have a modern vessel, all skippers and crew must complete basic safety training and I would encourage all fishermen, who have not already done so, to contact BIM to complete their safety training without delay".
The Fleet Safety Scheme is an integral part of the 2007-2013 National Development Plan - Sea Fisheries Development Programme and is intended to further improve the overall safety standards onboard Irish fishing vessels. Under the previous Fishing Fleet Development Measure 2000-2006, 1,234 vessels availed of assistance under the Fleet Safety scheme and received grant aid of €2.23 million in support of €5.57 million investment. The current scheme which will run from 2010-2015 will provide grant aid of up to 40% for the purchase and installation of safety items including statutory lifesaving, fire-fighting, navigation and communication equipment.
Rose McHugh, Chair of BIM in welcoming the Minister's announcement said "On behalf of BIM, I would like to thank Minister Connick for his support and approval of this important scheme. Safety is paramount for the Irish fishing industry and this package will help fishermen in these difficult times to modernise their vessels in line with safety standards which will ultimately help to save lives at sea".
Applications and details on the Fleet Safety Scheme and the three other schemes under the Sea Fisheries Development Programme are available from www.bim.ie