Irish fisheries development board Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM) has reported strong take-up of a new support scheme to help fishing boat owners adjust their businesses in a post-Brexit market – not least with strong interest at the Irish Skipper Expo held in Limerick last week – and the final deadline to apply is 31st March.
Under the scheme, depending on the size of their boat, grant aid of between €2700 and €4000 is available for fishing vessel owners on completion of a tailored training programme. This includes a variety on online business and marketing modules.
‘The world we are living in is a very different one from that several years ago, and the fishing industry are feeling that keenly, along with many other industries. Just as society here fully reopens after a two-year pandemic – which is still very much ‘live’ – Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is driving inflation and spikes in energy and food prices,’ said Minister for Agriculture, Food & the Marine Charlie McConalogue.
‘I, and my government colleagues, are committed to doing as much as we can to assuage the impact of Brexit, Covid-19, and this new conflict, on both the fishing industry and wider society. I am hugely pleased to see this scheme, provided for under the Seafood Taskforce, garnering such widespread take-up so that vessels owners can adjust their businesses.’
The scheme is based on recommendations contained in the final report of the Seafood Taskforce, established last year by the Ministry for Agriculture, Food & the Marine. It is administered by BIM.
Ireland’s inshore fishing sector comprises about 1800 vessels, which catch a range of fish and shellfish species and usually operate in waters close to the coast. The sector had exported up to 90% of its catch.
However, the effect of Brexit and associated new fishing agreements, has had an impact on export trends because accessing or transiting through the UK market is now more complex.
BIM’s CEO Jim O’Toole said he warmly welcomed the strong sign-up of a large amount of inshore fishing vessel owners to the new scheme.
‘We are delighted to see such significant support and interest in the scheme. These numbers have been growing exponentially in recent days, so we urge everyone to register on the BIM website before the deadline of March 31st,’ he said
‘The training modules to be undertaken ahead of receiving the grants include digital skills, sourcing alternative market opportunities and developing new business ideas and plans. We believe they will better equip this sector to face and deal with the challenges they are encountering. I would like to commend how resilient the sector has been in the last two years, and despite the many obstacles ahead, they are determined to overcome them. Supports like this are currently crucial.’