High uptake for Voluntary Decommissioning scheme

The owners of vessels with a total capacity of over 6,700 gross tonnes have accepted offers under the Voluntary Permanent Cessation Scheme to decommission their vessels. This will not impact Ireland’s overall quota share but, the decommissioning of a significant number of vessels will free up an estimated €30 million of quota for species such as prawns, hake, monkfish and haddock for those vessels remaining in the fleet.

This effectively means that remaining Irish vessels will have more Irish quota available to them allowing them to have a more sustainable future. This scheme, which is administered by Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM), is funded under the European Commission’s Brexit Adjustment Reserve (BAR), and forms part of a  €268 million package provided to-date to the seafood sector post-Brexit.

The Voluntary Permanent Cessation Scheme was one of the key recommendations of the Seafood Taskforce Report, established by the Minister for Agriculture, Food, and the Marine Charlie McConalogue TD.  The Task Force was set up to consider measures to mitigate the impacts of the fish quota share reductions, arising from the EU/UK Trade & Cooperation Agreement (TCA), on the Irish Fishing industry and on the coastal communities that depend on fisheries.

The Task Force unanimously agreed a decommissioning target of the removal of 8,000 gross tonnes from the Irish whitefish and prawn fleet to ensure future profitability, post-Brexit. 42 vessels have accepted offers of decommissioning with a combined total capacity of over 6,700 gross tonnes, which means that the scheme has achieved 84% of the target of Gross Tonnes to be voluntarily withdrawn  from the Irish fleet that was recommended by the Seafood Taskforce.  The total cost for decommissioning  these vessels will be approximately €63 million. The forty-two vessels comprise a mixture of prawn and whitefish trawlers, seine netters, gillnetters, and beam trawl vessels, spread around fishing ports along the coast.

BIM Chief Executive Caroline Bocquel said:

“We understand that any decision to voluntarily decommission vessels is a very difficult one for vessel owners and BIM has been working closely with the industry in recent months to assist vessel owners through the process. Recognising the magnitude of choosing to stop fishing, BIM is confident that the result of the scheme will help put the sector on a firmer financial footing and deliver a more sustainable future for the industry. By restoring the profitability of the fishing sector, it will help those remaining in the sector and support the wider economies of Irish coastal communities.”

Vessel owners that avail of the scheme have to decommission their vessel, in a manner that is environmentally compliant, by 31 October 2023. To date, four vessels have already been decommissioned in specialist recyclers based in New Ross and Limerick and the scheduling of the rest of the vessels for decommissioning is underway.

The voluntary decommissioning scheme is one of a number of financial supports for the Irish seafood sector that have been agreed in the wake of the Seafood Taskforce report. Thus far, up to €268 million has been made available for a wide range of schemes aimed at supporting the industry to adjust to the new situation post-Brexit.