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Marine Minister Charlie McConalogue has announced the opening of two new schemes under the €258-million Seafood Development Programme, co-funded by the Government of Ireland and the EU under the European Maritime, Fisheries and Aquaculture Fund 2021-2027 (EMFAF).

These new schemes are in addition to the four schemes to support the Irish fishing fleet and seafood processors which opened on 25 June.

The Aquaculture Capital Investment Scheme will provide grant aid to support capital investment in the aquaculture sector. These investments will enable the sustainable growth of aquaculture operators; will encourage the entry into the sector of new aquaculture operators; and will support the evolution of smaller operators, allowing them to scale-up, and boost their competitiveness. This scheme supports the objectives set out in the National Strategic Plan for Sustainable Aquaculture Development (NSPSA).

The Seafood Training Scheme will provide assistance to those working in the sector who wish to develop their skills and knowledge through attendance at recognised training and education courses. It assists with costs associated with the training, such as exam fees.

Announcing the opening of these schemes, Minister McConalogue said: “The aquaculture sector in Ireland is a significant contributor to national seafood production and food security. The sector has grown significantly in recent decades, and now produces approximately 40,000 tonnes of high value shellfish and finfish, employing around 1,800 people in coastal communities.

“The Aquaculture Capital Investment Scheme will allow operators to build on the investment supports provided to them under the Brexit Sustainable Aquaculture Growth Scheme, funded under the Brexit Adjustment Reserve, and the Sustainable Aquaculture Scheme, funded under the previous cohesion fund, the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund.

“It is a key enabler for the successful implementation of the National Strategic Plan for Sustainable Aquaculture Development, and will support the sector in maintaining a competitive edge, commercial resilience and optimised environmental performance through low impact production methods, technical innovation and diversification.”

The minister continued: “The Seafood Training Scheme will provide the necessary practical assistance to those working in the seafood sector to develop the skills and knowledge they need to support all aspects of their work. Whether that be potentially life-saving safety training; fishing vessel engineering skills or fishmonger skills. It also provides support to those wishing to enter employment in the sector, or to develop new career pathways in the sector.

“Providing these supports helps us to ensure we have a highly skilled, adaptable workforce that have the knowledge and skills they need to meet the requirements of their roles, and to keep pace with new production methods, quality and hygiene standards and diversification within the sector.

“These two new schemes, together with the schemes I announced last week, clearly demonstrate the breadth of supports provided under our EMFAF Seafood Development Programme. They provide the investment needed to support the resilience and sustainability of the seafood sector, both commercial and environmental. They will help to ensure that in the face of challenges such as climate change and ever-changing market conditions, the Irish seafood sector will continue to provide a high quality product and remain competitive in a global market.”

The two new schemes are being administered by Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM), Ireland’s seafood development agency, and the schemes are now open for applications. All details will be available on bim.ie.

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Marine Minister Charlie McConalogue has announced the opening of four new schemes to support the Irish fishing fleet and seafood processors.

These schemes, which deliver important elements of the €258 million Seafood Development Programme, opened for applications on Tuesday (25 June).

Three of these new schemes — co-funded by the Government and the European Maritime, Fisheries and Aquaculture Fund 2021-2027 (EMFAF) — will provide vital funding support for Irish registered fishing vessels.

The Inshore Fisheries Scheme will provide targeted supports for the small-scale coastal fishing vessels, which are registered fishing vessels under 12 metres in length who do not use towed gear.

Enhanced grant intensity rates of between 80% and 100% will be provided to these vessels to support both on-board and on-shore investment, and for participation in conservation measures. Other registered inshore fishing vessels will continue to have the opportunity to participate in conservation measures under this scheme also.

In that context, a lobster V-Notching Scheme is also being opened, which will continue the good work done under previous V-notching schemes to improve the sustainability of this fishery, which is of significant importance to the inshore fishing fleet in particular.

The Sustainable Fisheries Scheme will provide support to all registered fishing vessels (other than the small-scale coastal fishing vessels) for on-board investment.

Both the Inshore Fisheries Scheme and the Sustainable Fisheries Scheme support investment by fishing vessels in more selective gear that reduces catches of juvenile and/or over quota species, with the ultimate aim of improving the sustainability of fisheries.

The fourth scheme being opened is the Seafood Processing Capital Investment Scheme. This will provide important support for capital investment in the seafood processing sector, which employs approximately 4,000 people in rural coastal communities.

It will continue and build on the supports provided to the sector over the course of 2022 and 2023 under the Brexit Processing Capital Support Scheme, funded under the Brexit Adjustment Reserve (BAR), where the seafood processing industry received over €30 million funding for capital investment.

Announcing the opening of these schemes, Minister McConalogue said: “I was pleased to update my Cabinet colleagues this morning and confirm the launch of these schemes under the European Maritime, Fisheries and Aquaculture Fund 2021-2027. EMFAF is the primary funding programme for the seafood sector, and the Government has committed €116 million in funding to this programme.

“With co-funding from the EU, the overall value of Ireland’s EMFAF Programme is €258 million. This demonstrates our commitment to the support and development of this sector, which is of significant economic, social and cultural value to our coastal, rural communities.

“Following the launch of the EMFAF programme in February, my department worked closely with Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM) to develop schemes for industry, and they will implement these schemes on behalf of my department.

“The Sustainable Fisheries Scheme will support economically, socially and environmentally sustainable fishing activities. The Inshore Fisheries Scheme aims to be a ‘One Stop Shop’ grant aid scheme for all small-scale coastal fishers. While the V Notching Scheme is a valuable conservation measure to support a fishery of significant importance to the inshore fishing fleet.”

The minister continued: “The Seafood Processing Capital Investment Scheme will support seafood processors to engage in transformational change, while also building more environmentally friendly, sustainable, and competitive enterprises, and make better and more sustainable use of Irish landed or imported raw material.

“Both the fishing fleet and seafood processors have experienced significant challenges in recent years. The launch of these schemes will continue to build on supports provided to the seafood sector under the European Maritime Fisheries Fund (EMFF) and the Brexit Adjustment Reserve to deal with these challenges.”

BIM chief executive Caroline Bocquel added that the fisheries board “is acutely aware of the importance of these new schemes to our fishing fleet and our processing sector. Full details of these schemes, and how to apply, are on our website. Applications for funding can be made using our online grant application system and BIM officers are also available to provide advice and support to those who wish to apply for funding under these schemes.

“As Ireland’s seafood development agency, BIM’s own work programme includes a range of measures, also funded under EMFAF, designed to ensure we have an adaptable, resilient and sustainable seafood sector. Ireland is known for the quality and diversity of its seafood, from our prawns and lobster to our oysters and organic salmon. BIM will continue to work in partnership with the Department and industry to support the continued development of this important sector.”

The minister concluded: “The Seafood Development Programme provides the investment that our seafood sector needs to ensure an environmentally friendly, sustainable and attractive industry to work in. This will serve the EU and wider global markets, and support jobs in this important sector.”

These schemes are being administered by BIM, and the four schemes are now open for applications. Further information is available on bim.ie.

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The UK’s Cruising Association has welcomed a new protocol for small boats entering France from outside the European Union.

As of 1 June 2024, 53 marinas in France along its Channel coast now have the right to process boats both arriving into and exiting the EU/Schengen Zone.

Previously this process was restricted to a limited number of designated ports of entry (PPF).

The Cruising Association has more on the story HERE.

Published in Cruising

An east Cork seafood company is to invest over a million euro in an upgrade with grant-aid from a Brexit-related capital support scheme.

BalllyCotton Seafood is upgrading its production facilities and improving automation and efficiencies at its headquarters in Garryvoe.

The investment is supported by a €300,000 grant under the Brexit Processing Capital Support Scheme, implemented by Bord Iascaigh Mhara and drawn from the Brexit Adjustment Reserve.

Ballycotton Seafood employs more than 40 people at its processing activities, smokehouse, food preparation kitchen and three shops in Garryvoe, Midleton and the English Market in Cork City.

“Having improved processing capabilities and production capacity will help us move up the value chain and add value to fish through filleting, cooking, freezing and smoking,”Adrian Walsh, who runs the business with his wife, Diane, says.

Two chefs work daily in the large commercial kitchen in Garryvoe preparing a range of 25 ready-to-eat meals including chowders, seafood pies, sauces, crab, garlic mussels and breaded seafood.

“We had a healthy export business to the UK which was heavily impacted following Brexit. That was a very tough time and we had to look at different markets. We ramped up sales in Ireland and we are also doing exports to France,”Walsh said.

Adrian Walsh began working as a butcher, but 25 years ago he switched careers and joined the seafood business started by his parents Richard and Mary Walsh in 1985.

Adrian and Diane’s son Kieran is now working in the business and will eventually take it over. “We are delighted that it will be handed down to the third generation,” Walsh says.

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A Co Wexford boatyard says that a €340,000 investment under the Brexit Blue Economy enterprise development scheme will allow it to work with heavier fishing and leisure vessels for dry dock and repair.

New Ross Boat Yard has taken delivery of a 60-ton hoist that will not only handle bigger vessels but is also more energy efficient, operating on reduced diesel.

The well-known marine facility extends to over four acres and has 230 metres of shoreline to the west of the River Barrow, as well as access to the rivers Nore and the Suir.

One of its key facilities is a 15-metre by 70-metre-long dry dock used for servicing large commercial fishing boats and ferries, as well as smaller leisure boats.

The boatyard has also used the funding to invest in a 10 KW wind turbine and solar panels which are reducing energy bills and the businesses carbon footprint.

The boatyard received total grant aid of €170,000 towards its €340,000 investment under the Brexit Blue Economy Enterprise Development Scheme.

The scheme is funded by the European Union under the Brexit Adjustment Reserve.

Boat Yard owner Michael Kehoe said the former 25-year-old boat hoist could only lift 50 tons, was not energy efficient, and needed more and more maintenance to keep it in working order.

“We had a number of boats that we were no longer in a position to take into the yard due to the capacity of this lift,”he explained.

“The new lift has made a huge difference. It means we can take on bigger boats, and see the weights displayed on each lifting point, something which is very important and allows us to distribute weight when lifting a vessel,” he said.

At any given time, there are over 100 boats in the yard representing a mix of fishing and leisure boats in for servicing and repair, and for winter storage.

Currently, the yard is servicing two ‘mini-cruise’ ships - the Barrow Princess and Cailín Déise owned by the Three Sisters Cruise Company. The company runs mini cruises along the rivers Suir and Barrow.

The boatyard also does important maintenance work on the Dunbrody famine replica, which is based on New Ross quay front.

New Ross Boat Yard has a history dating back 50 years. At its height in the 1970s, it employed around 400 people and supported vessels that sailed all over the globe.

Michael Kehoe and his brother Stephen bought the boat yard in 2008 and they invested in the refurbishment of the dry dock as well as building a storage facility, showroom, offices and storerooms.

It offers boat sales, services, and storage facilities all on-site, and has one of only three dry docks in Ireland measuring 70 meters in length.

Before the solar panels and wind turbine were introduced, the yard's electricity bills were €2,500 a month.

“By being able to offset the cost of our electricity bills and possibly selling electricity back to the grid, we are in a position to protect ourselves against future price rises,” Kehoe said.

Published in Marine Trade

As of Wednesday midnight, new UK customs controls have come into effect on exports crossing the Irish Sea from the Republic to Britain.

It was the British government that flagged the move, however this was delayed several times since the nation left the European Union in 2021.

The authorities in the UK, will now demand documentation including declarations and notification of goods exported from the Republic. In addition, the new controls will involve health certificates for the exportation of live animals, meat and some other foods.

At midnight, 30th January, the controls came into immediate effect on goods shipped to Britain, which applies to anything exported from that point.

The implementation of the new customs rules, according to exporters’ predict that the controls will see further red tape and increased costs.

In response to the impact on the export industry, Simon McKeever, chief executive of the Irish Exporters’ Association (IEA), last week told The Irish Times, that the customs changes would mean extra paperwork for numerous firms coupled with a rise in costs.

He added that there were also concerns for the industry due to unforeseen problems as the new system of controls beds in.

The newspaper has more on the development.

Published in Irish Ports

Ireland’s expenditure of EU Brexit compensatory funding for the seafood sector is to be extended into next year.

The so-called Brexit Adjustment Reserve (BAR) was paid by the EU to Ireland and other affected member states to mitigate the impact of Britain’s withdrawal from the EU.

Ireland, as the EU member state most affected, received the biggest allocation at a value of €1.165 billion for fisheries, agriculture, enterprise customs and others.

The EU had stipulated monies had to be spent by the end of 2023. Ireland has to prepare a detailed claim by September 2024, setting out the projects undertaken, how they have mitigated the impact of Brexit, and other required information.

In response to questions put to him by Independent senator Victor Boyhan at an Oireachtas Agriculture, Food and Marine committee, Minister for Marine Charlie McConalogue said he had approved the introduction of “limited flexibility” for capital supports for the seafood processing sector.

To date, Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM) has paid out €127.8 million in total in Brexit fundings, and says that €47.9 million remains to be spent. This is equivalent to 4.4% of the remaining funds, it notes.

McConalogue says he has secured approval to allow BIM to make payments for projects approved under a “transformational change” scheme into early 2024.

“I am aware that some processors who have been approved for funding under this scheme have encountered delays and difficulties in completing their projects in time to draw down their approved funding,”he said.

Independent senator Victor BoyhanIndependent senator Victor Boyhan

Senator Boyhan welcomed the move.

The scheme aims to mitigate the effects of the EU/UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA)/Brexit while also “building more environmentally friendly, sustainable and competitive enterprises which serve the EU and wider global markets”, McConalogue explained.

Projects must also “create higher levels of employment more locally, and make better and more sustainable use of Irish landed or imported raw material”, he said.

“Ireland’s fish processing sector sustains over 4,000 jobs and is of particular importance to the economies of our rural coastal communities,”McConalogue said.

McConalogue said that was “pleased to be able to announce this practical solution”, whereby seafood processors who would otherwise have lost some of their approved funding will now have an opportunity to receive at least some of this funding.

The scheme has a budget of €45 million, he said.

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Marine Minister Charlie McConalogue has announced a €560,000 support package for the Irish fishing fleet segment of 22-28m vessels that targets scallop in the Irish Sea, Celtic Sea and the English Channel.

Speaking on Friday (10 November), Minister McConalogue said: “I am pleased to announce that I have secured €560,000 State Aid approval for support for this segment of the Irish scallop fleet.

“The Specific Scallop Fleet Transition Support Scheme recognises that the EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA), while directly impacting quota species, has also indirectly impacted non-quota species such as the scallop sector, which has been significantly affected by reductions in fishing time and logistical issues related to landed catch.”

Prior to Brexit, scallop caught in the English Channel were landed into the UK and shipped directly back to Ireland for processing. These processed scallops were then re-exported to other EU countries.

Post-Brexit, as a consequence of the TCA, these operators now face significant additional logistical and administrative burdens, with associated additional costs.

There are currently seven vessels of 22-28m that target scallop in the Irish Sea, Celtic Sea and the English Channel.

On average the days at sea fished by this fleet segment has reduced from 217 days in the period 2018-2020 to 142 days in 2021, a reduction of 34%.

This has resulted in reductions in average turnover of €227,000 (37%) across the fleet segment, with an averaged loss of 37.5% between trips now landed on the continent compared to previous trips which were being landed in the UK.

The minister added: “In that context I consider it appropriate to put in place a short-term liquidity aid scheme covering losses incurred by this segment during the 2021 scallop season due to reductions in fishing time, which have led to reduced turnover.”

The scheme will be open to owners of vessels in the specific scallop segment and aims to partially offset losses incurred by the sector due to the TCA during 2021 compared to 2018-2020.

To be eligible for funding, vessel owners/companies must have suffered a 30% or more reduction in turnover over in 2021 compared to the period 2018-2020 as a direct result of Brexit.

Payments will be based on the per days at sea lost in 2021 compared to the period 2018-2020, up to a maximum of 20 days or €80,000 per vessel.

Minister McConalogue said: “I am confident this support of up to €80,000 per eligible vessel will assist this segment of the Irish scallop fleet to consider all options to restructure and adapt to the issues created by Brexit in the scallop fishery.”

Scheme information, once launched, will be available on the BIM website.

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The UK has been fined €32m by the European Court of Justice (ECJ) for allowing pleasure boats to use red diesel before Brexit came into effect.

Under EU law, only commercial boats can use lower-tax dyed diesel, following a ruling by the ECJ in October 2018.

In Ireland a ban on green diesel use by pleasure boats came into effect on 1 January 2020. But a similar ban was not introduced for red diesel use in Northern Ireland until October 2021.

The ECJ brought proceedings against the UK in early 2020, and said the rule had applied to the whole of the UK for almost three years since the original ruling, therefore it was irrelevant that it only applied in NI since Brexit came into force in January 2021.

The court also determined that even though the UK is no longer a member state, it is still bound by some EU rules because of Northern Ireland’s unique position within the single market — meaning that its fine was based on the size of the UK’s economy as a whole.

Marine Industry News has more on the story HERE.

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At the EU Agriculture and Fisheries Council in Luxembourg on Monday (26 June), Ireland’s Marine Minister highlighted the need to protect the EU’s mackerel quota in the face of external threats from third countries.

Minister Charlie McConalogue said: “At council, fisheries ministers held an initial discussion on the preparation for the negotiations on setting quotas for 2024. I set out clearly Ireland’s priorities, including the need for action to prevent the unsustainable actions of other coastal states, outside of the EU, diluting the EU’s mackerel quota share.”

Fisheries ministers also discussed the conclusions on the European Commission’s Fisheries Policy Package, which was published in February.

Minister McConalogue acknowledged the considerable progress that has been achieved to date through the framework of the Common Fisheries Policy and the key role played by stakeholders in this regard.

However, the minister also highlighted the need to take account of the significant changes over the past number of years, especially Brexit.

“The package did not, in my view, address the real and detrimental impact of Brexit on Irish fishers in particular,” he said. “Neither did it address the new reality that the majority of EU fishing opportunities are determined by annual negotiations with third parties.”

The minister added: “At my insistence, the conclusions now include a demand that the [European] Commission fully analyse and report on the impacts of quota transfers, as well as the need to develop a comprehensive strategy for relations with third countries. This demand was supported by the majority of member states.”

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