When new marine minister Dara Calleary recently rolled out EU monies to help coastal communities diversify, there was some dismay within the fishing industry.
As The Sunday Times reports today, a garden trail, an art website, a tower house restoration and new stand up paddleboards are among some 93 projects which were awarded grants totalling 1.2 million under the Fisheries Local Action Group (FLAG) scheme late last month.
“The one thing that unites all these projects is their contribution to the economic and social development of traditional fishing communities,” Mr Calleary stated when releasing the list of FLAG grants.
“Grant aid for materials for painters and decorators by the looks of it, yet nothing specific and meaningful yet to help the hundred of inshore fishing enterprises that face a very uncertain future,”the National Inshore Fishermen’s Association responded.
Its members have already expressed bitter disappointment at the small level of compensation offered by Government for a temporary tie-up scheme due to COVID 19, amounting to between 500 euro and 6,000 euro for a maximum of two months, depending on size of vessel.
Dr Kevin Flannery, chair of the FLAG committee for the south-west, says it is “time to revamp this fund to ensure people with links to the fishing industry have a role in technical evaluation, and that coastal communities are actually benefiting”.
“Marine tourism has such potential that it deserves its own agency,” Dr Flannery added.
Defending the FLAG scheme, Mr Calleary said neither his department nor Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM) have a say in the allocation of funding.
BIM also said it “does not have a say”, and “provides administrative and technical support”.
Read more on The Sunday Times report here