Fishing industry representatives say they are confounded and disappointed by the Government’s repeated refusal to draw down EU fuel aid. They met with the Minister for the Marine on Friday 23rd September and urged him to secure the existing EU aid to help with the crippling costs of going to sea.
However, Minister McConalogue failed to meet this demand, although it would incur no cost to the Irish exchequer. Furthermore, a statement issued by the Minister after the meeting on Friday made no reference to the EU fuel aid scheme.
The meeting was attended by Aodh O Donnell of the Irish Fish Producers Organisation and Brendan Byrne of the Irish Fish Processors and Exporters Association, among others. Mr O Donnell said that prior to the meeting the Minster had been presented with a pre-budget submission. This outlined fully costed measures aimed at creating a level playing field for Irish fishers in Europe.
“Based on BIM (Bord Iascaigh Mhara) annual consumption data, we require fuel aid of €20m to €25m a year to compete effectively in Europe. Otherwise, we are up against fleets whose governments are distributing the existing EU fuel aid or offering other fuel aid support. Whereas many Irish boats can’t afford to fish because of fuel costs or can’t make a profit on fishing.