Leading Journal of the Irish & UK Fishing Industries

The granting of a flexibility period for the issuing of payments for the Brexit Processing Capital Support scheme has been welcomed by the IFPEA and its members.

The Scheme aims to support the Irish processing sector to engage in transformational change, mitigating the effects of the EU/UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA)/Brexit while also building more environmentally friendly, sustainable and competitive enterprises which serve the EU and wider global markets, create higher levels of employment more locally, and make better and more sustainable use of Irish landed or imported raw material.

The limited flexibility which was announced by the Minister will be sufficient to assist numerous applicants and projects complete their claims within the timelines, but afford BIM additional time to process the claims and issue the necessary payments in early 2024. The sheer volume of claims and the scale of works ongoing has made the administration of this scheme challenging stated Brendan Byrne CEO of IFPEA.

“This limited flexibility introduced by the Minister will assist all parties in bringing these projects to anorderly completion while satisfying the grant aid requirements.”

“The initiative undertaken by Minister McConalogue has shown a keen understanding on his part of the reality facing the sector at present, and is a positive step by both BIM and the Department in meeting the needs of the processing sector. The scale of investment at present within the processing sector is unprecedented, and numerous projects nationwide are undergoing a massive transformation.”

“This scale of investment will position Irish fish processing to be a leader within the EU in the fish processing sector, but more needs to be done in terms of undoing the disproportionate hit Ireland took in terms of the TCA/Brexit deal. The EU needs to realise Ireland is not a colony within the EU but an equal Member State within the European Union and our fishing resources are not there to be exploited by others while our fishing industry suffers.”

Processors who would otherwise have lost some of their approved funding will now have an opportunity to receive at least some of this funding. This will help to ensure the budget for this scheme is utilised to its fullest potential.

The scheme, which has a budget of €45 million, is aimed at supporting industry led transformative capital investments that enable the sector to focus on “creating more from less” in the wake of reduced supply of raw material and moving enterprises in the sector further up the supply chain to produce higher value product and shifting the industry to a focus on secondary processing and beyond to products targeting end-user markets.

The Scheme was available to applicants who are both an onshore processing SME and have an SFPA approval number with activity code FFPP (Fresh Fishing Products Plant) or PP (Processing Plant).

The Minister said:

“Ireland’s fish processing sector sustains over 4,000 jobs and is of particular importance to the economies of our rural coastal communities. The sector has been substantially impacted by the TCA, and this scheme aims to support the processing sector to mitigate those impacts. I am aware that some processors who have been approved for funding under this scheme have encountered delays and difficulties in completing their projects in time to draw down their approved funding.”

“My Department has worked closely with the Department for Public Expenditure, National Development Plan Delivery and Reform to identify how best to maximise the ability of beneficiaries under this scheme to access their approved funding, while still adhering to the requirements of the BAR Regulation. I am pleased to be able to announce this practical solution.”