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Fishing Fleet COVID-19 Tie-Up Scheme Introduced

8th May 2020
Fishing boats in Howth Harbour in County Dublin Fishing boats in Howth Harbour in County Dublin

The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed, T.D, today announced a temporary voluntary fleet tie-up scheme for fishing vessels in the Polyvalent, Beam Trawl and Specific segments of the fishing fleet. Eligible vessels will be supported to voluntarily opt to tie up for one or two of the next three months, operational from 1st June 2020 and availability will be extended to the inshore fleet and to larger vessels. The Scheme will be implemented under Ireland’s European Maritime and Fisheries Fund Operational Programme 2014-20, co-funded by the Government of Ireland and the European Union.

Minister Creed explained that “the new Covid-19 Voluntary Fleet Tie-up Scheme I am announcing today, will support the fixed costs incurred by owners of fishing vessels while tied-up. The Scheme is designed to complement the Covid-19 wage supports and loan arrangements already being provided by Government to the fishing sector and indeed other sectors of our economy. The supports to fixed costs will range from €6,000 per month for a maximum of two months for the very largest vessels over 24 metres, to €500 per month for a maximum of two months for the very smallest vessels under 6 metres in length. The tie-up scheme will be available to a maximum of 66% of the fishing fleet, in the different size categories, in any one month. The voluntary scheme will operate over the calendar months of June, July & August, to coincide with the monthly fisheries quota management periods, in order to adjust the supply of fish coming onto a currently depressed market and protect quota availability for later in the year. Any vessel not receiving support to tie-up in any particular month may continue to fish to underpin the Government’s policy of ensuring that the food chain is maintained.”

Announcing the Scheme, Minister Creed said “Our fishing sector has been particularly hard hit by the severe market disruption in Europe and internationally caused by the Covid-19 Pandemic. The closure of many markets and disruption of established distribution channels, particularly to restaurants and the food service industry domestically and internationally, has seen market demand and sale prices drop very substantially in many of our key markets. In these unique and unprecedented circumstances, it is useful to give the fishing fleet another option to help match supply with demand in the seafood markets.”

The Minister added that, “There are still markets open both domestically and internationally and it is important that we continue to supply these markets to maintain food supply, service our established customers and be in a position to take advantage of increased demand as markets open up. To that extent, we want to see a continuing level of fishing by our fishing fleet. However, to temporarily facilitate the industry to better match fishing activity with market demand, I am now putting in a temporary scheme to support a portion of our fleet who voluntarily choose to tie up, while others continue fishing.”

European Maritime and Fisheries Fund

The European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF) Operational Programme 2014-20 was launched in January 2016. The Programme provides €240m in funding to the seafood sector (fisheries, aquaculture and seafood processing) over the period 2014 to 2020. The Programme is co-funded by the Government of Ireland and the European Union.

Payments to fishing vessel owners for temporary cessation

Article 33.1(d) of the EMFF Regulation (508/2014) provides for payments to fishing vessel owners for temporary cessation of fishing activities as a consequence of the Covid-19 Pandemic. This new provision was enacted by the EU on 23 April through Regulation 2020/560, as part of the EU’s Coronavirus Response Investment Initiative.

Covid-19 Fleet Tie-up Scheme

The Covid-19 Fleet Tie-up Scheme is designed to support the fixed costs incurred by vessel owners while tied up in port and to complement the wage supports and other horizontal measures made available by Government. Fixed costs incurred by fishing vessel owners would typically include vessel insurance, loan interest, harbour charges, legal fees and accounting fees. The fixed costs arising for different vessel lengths across the fleet are returned to BIM each year as part of the EU Data Collection Framework.

To Qualify for the Scheme

To qualify for the Scheme, the vessel must have carried out fishing activities at sea for at least 120 days over the 2-year period 2018/19 and have made a first sale of fish to a minimum value of €5,000 in the calendar year 2019, by reference to the Irish Sales Note System administered by the Sea Fisheries Protection Authority.

The following payments would be made to vessel owners who apply and are approved under the scheme.

Size of vessel

Payment over 1-month tie-up period

Payment over 2-month tie-up period

> 24m

€6,000

€12,000

18 < 24m

€4,600

€9,200

15 < 18m

€2,000

€4,000

12 < 15m

€1,900

€3,800

10 < 12m

€800

€1,600

8 < 10m

€750

€1,500

6 < 8m

€500

€1,000

<6m

€500

€1,000


Vessel owners may apply to BIM to tie-up their vessels for one or two months out of three from 1st June to 31st August. The scheme will be kept under review on a monthly basis and should markets improve, the scheme may be closed before the next tie up period comes into operation. A maximum of 66% of the number of vessels in each of eight vessel length categories will be approved for support for any particular one-month period, ensuring that some vessels are always available to fish and continue to supply the market.

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