Hundreds of Irish fishing boat owners sign up to post-Brexit aid scheme

Published on
March 28, 2022
A pair of fishing boats at the dock in Ireland.

Hundreds of Ireland-based fishing boat owners have taken up a new support scheme that aims to help adjust their businesses to a post-Brexit market, according to fisheries and aquaculture state agency Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM).

To-date, 870 fishing boat owners have signed up to the scheme, which, depending on the size of their boat, will see them granted aid of between EUR 2,700 (USD 3,000) and EUR 4,000 (USD 4,400) on completion of a tailored training program including a series of online business and marketing modules. 

BIM CEO Jim O’Toole said the agency was happy to see support and interest in the scheme ahead of the 31 March, 2022, sign-up deadline.

“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,” he said. “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.”

The new scheme, which is being administered by BIM, is based on recommendations contained in the final report of the Seafood Sector Task Force, established in 2021 by Ireland Minister for Agriculture, Food, and the Marine, Charlie McConalogue.

McConalogue said the task force’s recommendations have been key to the government’s own support for the industry, which is worth more than EUR 1 billion (USD 1.1 billion) to the Irish economy.

“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,”  McConalogue said. “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 [Sector] Task Force, garnering such widespread take-up so that vessels owners can adjust their businesses.”

Ireland’s inshore fishing sector comprises about 1,800 vessels, which catch a range of fish and shellfish species and usually operate in waters close to the coast. Historically, the sector has exported up to 90 percent of its catch, but the effects of Brexit and associated new fishing agreements has had an impact on exports, partly because accessing or transiting the U.K. market is now more complex.  

Photo courtesy of Neil Tackaberry/Shutterstock

Contributing Editor reporting from London, UK

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