The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Charlie McConalogue T.D., hosted a meeting of the National Inshore Fisheries Forum (NIFF) online on 9 December with representatives from the industry dialling in from around the coast.
The inshore sector has faced a particularly tough trading year with its key food service markets in Europe and elsewhere among the worst-affected by COVID-19 restrictions. Minister McConalogue observed,
“As essential workers, fishers have been in a position to continue bringing ashore seafood. However, I am conscious that the prolonged closures and restrictions on trading for hotels and restaurants across Europe have had a marked impact on Irish seafood trade.”
The NIFF delivered presentations on the challenges small scale coastal fishers have faced in accessing financial supports and on opportunities the sector would like to maximise into the future. The Minister encouraged the inshore sector to feed into the development of the Operational Programme for the European Maritime Fisheries and Aquaculture Fund 2021-2027.
Mental health and the well-being of fishers were also highlighted by the NIFF at the meeting, with particular focus on the worries that the pandemic has brought from finances, to health and social inclusion.
Minister McConalogue commended the NIFF for giving voice to the stress that many have felt since the pandemic took hold. He stated,
“In the face of the uncertainty of the twin challenges of COVID and Brexit it is natural that many would feel anxious and worried at this time. I know first-hand how close knit our coastal communities are and I firmly believe that they have the resilience to see through these difficult times. I will continue to work in Government for the best possible outcomes for our seafood sector as we navigate our way toward a new future.”