O’Neill rules out vessel decommissioning
Northern Ireland’s fisheries minister, Michelle O’Neill, has ruled out a local fishing vessel decommissioning scheme and has said that the funding for this will now assist with fleet modernisation.
Minister O’Neill said: “The justification for having a decommissioning scheme is that the financial performance of fishing vessels that remain in the fleet would improve because they would benefit from the fishing quotas released by those vessels that opt for decommissioning. However, to ensure that these benefits are maintained for the long term the scheme must have safeguards to prevent the fleet sectors from subsequently growing in size.”
She believes that controlling the future size of the fleet is fundamental to the proposal for a decommissioning scheme and failure to limit future fleet size would completely undermine the purpose of the public investment. She acknowledges that the industry is opposed to this but says that without such a control mechanism it would be impossible to have a robust business case that would demonstrate that public investment in fleet restructuring represented good value for money
Minister O’Neill said with regards to the funding that was to be spent on decommissioning, there are opportunities available to the local industry to obtain grants to modernise their vessels. This funding measure is worth some £2.5million.
A review of all funding allocations within the European Fisheries Fund is being undertaken, to ensure that they are fully utilised and reallocated to other measures where demand for financial support is likely to exceed the approved budgets. This review will include consideration of how best to utilise the funding that had been earmarked for decommissioning for the benefit of the fishing industry and the communities in which they are based.