-A +A

Coveney Announces Expanded and Wide Ranging €241 Million Seafood Development Programme to 2020

The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Simon Coveney TD, today announced plans for a new €241 million development programme for the seafood sector for the period up to 2020.  The new Programme will be co-funded by the EU through the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund and is subject to adoption by the European Commission.  A public consultation on the Minister’s proposals for the new Programme and a strategic environmental assessment were published today, with comments invited by 1 May 2015.

In announcing the new Programme the Minister said “I am delighted to announce today a comprehensive €241 million investment package for the seafood sector.  Our Seafood sector is worth in the region of €850 million annually to our economy, with exports growing by 70% since 2009 to €540 million.  Seafood is widely recognised as a high growth area of our economy, with the potential to grow to €1 billion by 2020.  The investment package I am announcing today will be a key element in achievement of that growth potential.  It will provide the capital to assist seafood enterprises to sustainably grow their production, add value to our seafood exports and create much needed employment in our coastal communities.”
The Minister went on to say “I negotiated a doubling for the period to 2020 of the EU seafood development funds to Ireland. Under this Programme, €147m will be provided to Ireland under the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund. Government is providing an additional €94 million in co-funding, demonstrating our commitment to growing and developing the sector”.
The Minister added “I recognise at the outset that there will be many views on how these funds would best be invested and on which particular areas should be prioritised.  Following a detailed process of analysing the investment needs of the sector, I am proposing today that we invest €42 million in implementing the new Common Fisheries Policy, including measures for developing more selective fishing gear, and supporting the new discards ban.  I am also proposing that we invest a further €6 million to build on the good work that has been ongoing over recent months to revive and sustainably grow our inshore fisheries, €30 million to sustainably develop our aquaculture industry and implement a new national plan for aquaculture that I will be announcing shortly, €12 million to grow the seafood based economies of our coastal communities through community led Fisheries Local Action Groups, and €41 million to grow markets for our seafood products, develop our seafood processing industry and develop new value added products for those markets.  I am also making available almost €10 million to support implementation of EU environmental law, to help protect vulnerable habitats and species and ensure that our seafood sector continues to operate and grow in a sustainable manner.”
The Minister concluded by saying “I am inviting comments on these proposals by 1 May and I look forward to considering all views and discussing them with stakeholders.”




Published: 27th March 2015

Note for Editors

The Minister is proposing that funds are distributed as follows:

Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) Implementation                                                         €41.0m

Implementation of measures to support the effective delivery of the reformed Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) including eliminating discarding of fish at sea and setting fishing quotas at sustainable levels.   The measures will support: innovation for new and improved products; environmentally friendly fishing methods to fish sustainably and eliminate unwanted catches; advisory services for operators on all aspects of their business; on shore management of unmarketable catches; new energy efficient engines (for smaller vessels); on board environmental quality and handling systems;  new entrants; a fleet decommissioning scheme.      

Inshore Fisheries Development                                                                                   €6.0m

The Minister said “In January 2015, I convened the first meeting of the National Inshore Fisheries Forum, the new representative body for the inshore fisheries sector.  I recognise that there are many challenges around stock conservation in our inshore fisheries sector, but also many potential opportunities for these non-quota stocks if they can be re-built and sustainably fished”.  In addition to the CFP measures above that cover all the fishing fleet, an additional specific allocation has been set aside for inshore fisheries development.   The measures will include support for enhanced management and conservation of inshore stocks, including v-notching of lobster, more selective fishing gear and preparation and implementation of management plans for inshore stocks. The Minister also said “I will be consulting with the National Inshore Fisheries Forum on their views on appropriate priorities for the inshore sector”

Aquaculture Support and Development                                                                        €29.8m

The aquaculture sector has significant potential for growth over the lifetime of the programme. The Minister said “I will shortly be bringing forward a new National Strategic Plan for Aquaculture that will identify his policy proposals for addressing the many aspects of this industry.” A range of support and development measures are proposed under the programme to support the sustainable development of the sector.  The measures include:  improving scientific and technical knowledge; business, planning and environmental advisory services; training and networking; capital investment in sites to grow production; new farmers scheme; organic aquaculture production; stock insurance and aid for harvesting suspensions.

Seafood Processing and Marketing                                                                                 €41.3m

Seafood processing and adding value is key to maximising the return in terms of jobs and wealth.  Finding new markets and increasing our product share on existing markets is essential and the proposed allocation under the programme will be invested in measures to increase our processing and marketing capability.  The measures include: capital grants for increased output and added value; business planning and management skills including graduate mentoring; up-scaling of businesses to promote efficiencies; innovation and adding value; seafood marketing, promoting seafood and building new markets.  The programme will support aid to Producer Organisations to implement production and marketing plans under the new CFP and for market price support under storage aid.

Fisheries Local Action Groups (FLAGs)                                                                              €12.0m

The Minister said “in 2013 I established 6 Fisheries Local Action Groups, similar to LEADER groups for the Rural Development Programme, but with a specific focus on developing traditional fishing areas and seeking to develop the local marine focused economies of those areas.  I believe the FLAGs initiative has great potential to foster innovation and development ideas for our coastal fishing communities”. Funding for FLAGs under this programme is being very substantially increased and will support grant aid for capital projects in our coastal fishing communities. The funding will be allocated across the FLAG regions to support projects that enhance the economic and social prosperity of the local area, add value to fisheries products, maintain and support job creation through support for diversification, support economic and social restructuring of areas facing socio-economic difficulties resulting from changes in the fishing sector and supporting the quality of the coastal environment.

Control and Compliance                                                                                                      €46.5m

The State’s fisheries control and compliance agencies (the Sea-Fisheries Protection Authority, the Naval Service and the Air Corps) are vital to underpin the sustainability of our seafood resources. They are committed to the effective and fair regulation of all fishing vessels operating within Ireland’s 200 mile limit, all Irish fishing vessels wherever they operate and all seafood produced in Ireland wherever it is marketed. The programme will support the development of streamlined information systems and new technologies to deliver effective monitoring of fishing activities in Ireland’s 200 mile zone. It will also support new traceability, sales recording and monitoring in Natura sites as well as assisting the development of technological solutions through innovation. The Fund will support the development of the Naval service, training and international exchanges of experts and joint international control missions.

Delivering sound scientific advice from sound scientific data                                           €40.8m

Collection of data on fish stocks and the seafood sector is essential to support informed sustainable fish stock management and to support the implementation of the reformed Common Fisheries Policy. Member States are obliged under EU law to collect, manage and make available a wide range of fisheries data needed for scientific advice. The activities supported under the programme will include gathering data and information on fleets and their activities, biological data including information on catches, at-sea and port based sampling as well as supporting research vessel surveys to gather information on fish stocks. Data is collected to allow for the rebuilding of fish stocks and the operation of fisheries in our zone a maximum sustainable yield. Data is also collected to assess the economic situation of fishing enterprises, aquaculture and the processing industry, and of employment trends in these sectors.

Integrated Maritime Policy                                                                                                  €10.6

Irelands integrated marine plan ‘Harnessing Our Ocean Wealth’ (published in 2012) set out the Government’s vision, high-level goals and key enabling actions necessary to put in place the appropriate policy, governance and business climate to enable our full marine potential to be realised.  Since the publication of ‘Harnessing Our Ocean Wealth’, the Marine Coordination Group (MCG), which oversees implementation of the plan, has been successfully facilitating a more coordinated inter-agency  approach to maritime policy making at national level, mirroring wider developments at European level to ‘grow’ the marine economy. Integrated Marine Policy measures to be included in the Seafood Development Programme will support the continued implementation of integrated marine policy in Ireland.

Implementation of EU Directives for Fisheries and Aquaculture                                       €9.4m

Fisheries and aquaculture in Natura 2000 sites must be managed so as to protect those sites. Measures proposed under the programme will enable sustainable fisheries and aquaculture in those Natura 2000 sites while assisting Ireland in meeting obligations under the Habitats, Birds and Marine Strategy Framework Directives and include supports for management and conservation of stocks; Natura 2000 and Marine Strategy Framework Directive compliance.

Other                                                                                                                                €3.9m

The programme includes a range of other measures like support for a mutual fund for fishermen to protect against losses arising from adverse climatic events such as the storms of January 2014 and technical costs for the implementation of the Operational Programme.

1.      This investment programme is proposed under the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund Regulation (508/2014) and some elements may be subject to State Aid approval.
2.      The €147m EU funds allocated to Ireland under the EMFF comes in 5 discrete envelopes as follows, which must be used for that particular purpose:  Seafood development €71.2m, control and compliance €37.2m, Data Collection €32.6m, Storage Aid €1.3m, and Integrated Maritime Policy €5.3m.
3.      €94m of Irish Exchequer funding has been added making a total programme fund of €241m
4.      While in general investments are to be co-funded 50:50 with the EU, some elements of the EMFF require higher co-funding by the EU.  These are Data Collection (80%), Control  and Compliance (90% with some exceptions) and Storage Aid (100%).
5.      The consultation document and strategic environmental assessment are available