Councillor Conor D. McGuinness has said that Ireland’s fishing industry must not be neglected by the caretaker Government. The Sinn Féin representative has called on the Minister to come up with a comprehensive package of supports for fishermen, the seafood sector, and coastal communities.
“Its very important that the fishing industry is provided with an adequately resourced package of financial supports in other to preserve its existence and maintain critical supply chains.
“With the restaurant sector closed in Ireland, and in important markets for Irish fish exports such as Spain, France and Italy, there has been a colossal drop off in demand for Irish fish produce. Some 64% of fish landed by Irish boats is exported to Europe.
“The caretaker Government has yet to announce anything of significance to support fishermen whose boats are currently tied up, or shellfish producers and fish processors who have seen their markets close almost entirely.
“There is huge frustration in the fishing industry over the failure by the caretaker Minister to avail of EU funding or relaxed state-aid rules to introduce measures to support the sector. By contrast, the Sinn Féin Minister for Finance in the North, Conor Murphy has delivered an initial support package of £1.5 million for the sector there.
The EU set up a temporary relief scheme, which allows member states divert existing allocations of structural funds to sectoral support and compensation packages. Already Portugal and Latvia have secured multi-million euro schemes for their fishing and seafood industries.
“At a minimum fishermen need to see a temporary tie-up scheme for fishing vessels, fair access to emergency payments for workers in the sector, many of whose work is seasonal or part-time, and full access for shellfish producers to the agri-food supports available to land-based farmers.”