Fishermen now waiting 30 months for access to approved Brexit funding
The ongoing, inordinate delay in providing compensation to fishermen impacted by Brexit is an absolute scandal which must be rectified forthwith according to Killybegs Fishermen’s Organisation, Chief Executive, Seán O’Donoghue.
Mr O’Donoghue said this morning’s report from state seafood development agency, Bord Iascaigh Mhara underlines the seismic challenge faced by his members with Dublin Bay Prawns now surpassing mackerel as the most valuable wild species for the industry. The report also states that the volume of exports fell by 13% to 293,000 tonnes due mainly to the lower quotas of mackerel and blue whiting as a result of Brexit.
The Brexit Adjustment Reserve (BAR) was put in place to provide financial support to pelagic fishermen which is the sector most impacted from the Brexit fallout. However, not one single cent of monies have been distributed to date.
“It beggars belief that a tranche of money which will provide so much relief to our members is not being disseminated. We lag behind our EU counterparts and what’s of most concern to us is that if we don’t distribute this funding by year end, it’ll be returned to Europe and permanently lost to our fishermen. This is potentially an appalling vista and we’re calling for the most urgent of political action by Minister McConalogue on this matter.
In 2022 alone, we have had more than 12,000 tonnes of mackerel valued at approximately €18million taken from our quota as a direct result of Brexit. No business can nor could, be expected to sustain losses on this scale,” concluded Mr O’Donoghue.
In October 2021, a Government-established Seafood Taskforce rightly recognised that the end of the Brexit withdrawal period brought about the biggest change and disruption in EU-UK relations in 50 years. This was manifest across all aspects of trade and society but most notably within the Irish seafood sector, where a savage loss of 26% of mackerel and 14% of nephrops quota, was wiped from the bottom line with the stroke of a pen.
In the absence of financial support and other burden sharing measures, Ireland’s pelagic sector will shed more than 1,200 jobs by 2030 because of Brexit. From 2021 to the end of 2023, pelagic fishermen will have had more than 37,000 tonnes of their mackerel quota stripped away because of Brexit, resulting in loss of more than €52million.
This fishery is the cornerstone of KFO members’ businesses with fishermen in the North West feeling the cold wind from Brexit for more than two years now and further hits to come over the next three years.