Holly Cairns, Social Democrat spokesperson on Agriculture, Food, and the Marine has called on Minister Creed to immediately review the COVID-19 tie-up scheme.
Designed to adjust the supply of fish coming onto a currently depressed market and protect quota availability for later in the year in the context of the coronavirus pandemic; many fishing communities, however, have found the scheme wanting, both in terms of the supports offered and design of the scheme.
The Cork South West TD said: “It became clear from when the scheme was announced that it was not fit for purpose. Representatives of fishing communities contacted me highlighting that it is not sufficient to cover their costs.
“Fishing is an expensive livelihood from maintenance costs to insurance and safety fees. Their concerns are reflected in reports that very few fishermen will take up this voluntary scheme.”
Figures from BIM, who are administering the scheme, indicate that for the month of June 104 applications to the scheme were received in total. Of those, 65 applicants were ultimately deemed eligible.
Adding her voice to the mounting calls for a review of the scheme from both within and beyond the industry, the Social Democrat’s spokesperson on Agriculture, Food, and the Marine went on to say: “I am echoing calls from the Irish South and West FPO and others that the Minister immediately reviews the scheme to ensure that it supports the seafood sector which is on the verge of collapse.”
“I had sought that Minister Creed establish a task force at the beginning of the crisis which could actively produce practical and financial supports that are desperately needed by fishing communities; unfortunately, he chose a different approach. We are now seeing the results of a lack of real engagement with fishing communities and their organisations,” she said.
“The scheme needs to be reviewed and adjusted to provide greater flexibility and more support. French authorities have presented an alternative model which is more in line with the needs of our fishing communities, but the Minister rejected this approach in his response to my questions.
“At a time when we are all making changes to the way we do business I would have hoped the Department would be open to more proactive and participatory methods to help an industry that is vital to so many coastal and island communities.”
Image: Niall Duffy