20 Offers Under Government’s Whitefish Vessel Scrappage Scheme Being Appealed. A total of 13 fishing vessel owners have accepted decommissioning offers to date under the Government’s whitefish scrappage scheme. Figures released by Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM) confirm that a further 20 offers which it has issued to applicants are being appealed. The final closing date for acceptance is March 2nd, 2023. The Government is seeking to decommission up to 60 vessels from the whitefish fleet, as a result of the overall loss of 25 per cent quota due to Brexit, and letters of offer to 57 owners were issued in January by BIM.
BIM said this would ensure that over 9,000 tonnes of quota fish valued at €35 million annually would be available for remaining whitefish vessels to catch, ensuring the remaining fleet’s economic viability into the future. However, Irish industry organisations, who have been seeking a meeting with the Taoiseach on the issue, said there is considerable anger among a number of those who received offers. Some received offers well below the quoted maximum sum of 12,000 euro per gross tonne.
Applicants who received funding for temporary tie-ups as a Brexit impact measure have also been told this money must be paid back under State aid rules. Irish South and East Fish Producers’ Organisation chief executive John Lynch said this was “particularly petty”, given that these vessels were not catching quota when tied up. The funding for the decommissioning scheme is being paid from the Brexit Adjustment Reserve (BAR) awarded by the EU to Ireland. The sum of almost 1 billion euros must be used up within two years or returned.
Irish Fish Producers’ Organisation (IFPO) chief executive Aodh O’Donnell has said the Irish government should be keeping tonnage within the State to ensure there is a route for young skippers seeking to buy vessels at a later date.