Sinn Féin MEP for the Midlands North West, Matt Carthy, has received a written response from the European Commission stating that the Irish Government may compensate anglers up to €30,000 where their businesses were destroyed by the eel-fishing ban under a state aid exemption.
Speaking following the answer to his parliamentary question Carthy said:
“Many Irish anglers have been without a vital source of income since a total ban of eel fishing was introduced in Ireland in 2010. And, while there is no doubt over the need to increase eel stocks, there has been a growing sense that an outright ban without any accompanying Government efforts to improve stock or compensation to affected Irish fishermen, is unfair.
“At the December European Council meeting, European Ministers with responsibility for Fisheries agreed an EU-wide ban for any three month period between 1 September 2018 and 31 January 2019. This ban, which is to coincide with eel migration season, is much less restrictive than the ban anglers in Ireland are subject to.
“The European Commission has confirmed to me that while the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF) may be used to compensate for temporary cessation of fishing activities, the Irish Government opted not to include this as a form of support in its Operational programme. Therefore this avenue has not been open to Irish fishermen, unlike their counterparts in other European countries.
“It is totally unfair to anglers and fishermen whose fishing equipment has been rendered worthless overnight and who have lost their entire livelihoods as a result of the ban. The fact that the Government itself has not undertaken any recovery measures to help the stock recover going beyond the ban, shows that there is no commitment to lift what was supposed to be a temporary ban in the Irish case.
“In its response to me the Commission has outlined that it would be possible for the Irish Government to give aid of up to €30,000 to affected business in an exemption from state aid rules. On the basis of this news, I will be writing to Minister Creed to ask him to come forward with such a fund for affected fishermen.
“This is an issue I have been working on over the past few years, and it is quite clear that additional supports are needed to help those whose livelihoods were affected to adapt their activities to new sectors”.