8 December 2015
By Bryan Smyth
Fine Gael TD for Cork South West, Noel Harrington, has said that news of a greenlight for the Seafood Development Operational Programme is very welcome for fishing communities and will help to create jobs in West Cork.
“This week the European Commission has agreed Ireland’s new €241 million development programme for the seafood sector and adopted it into law. According to the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Simon Coveney, this means that the Programme can now be implemented in full, which is great news for the fisheries community around the coast of Ireland, including in West Cork.
“Schemes will be rolled out from the beginning of 2016 to assist seafood enterprises to sustainably grow their production, add value to our seafood exports and create much needed employment in our coastal communities.
“€67 million of the Programme funding is going into the sustainable development of fisheries, focusing on implementation of the Common Fisheries Policy, in particular the discards ban. Schemes will be implemented to support fishermen in implementing the landing obligation, to develop more selective fishing gear and methods to avoid unwanted catch, to decommission vessels in imbalanced fleet segments, to support sustainable inshore fisheries and to support implementation of the Habitats, Birds and Marine Strategy Framework Directives.
“Fisheries Local Action Groups will receive €12 million to develop and implement local development strategies for coastal areas to create growth and jobs in those areas, in particular by adding value to seafood products and diversifying the local economy towards new economic activities offered by the broader maritime sector.
“There will be €33 million for processing and marketing, and measures will be focussed on promoting innovation, competitiveness and employment in the sector through increased value added processing of fish, promotion of new product development and increased scale.
“The remainder of the overall fund will be spent on the sustainable development of aquaculture, data collection, control and enforcement measures and an Integrated Maritime Policy which will develop a marine spatial planning system.
“This Programme runs up to the year 2020, by which point Minister Coveney has said he is aiming to achieve €1 billion in seafood sales. Ireland’s seafood sector is currently worth in the region of €850 million annually to our economy.”