Hazzard Welcomes Progress on Single Boat Payment

Chris Hazzard South Down MLA has welcomed progress being made in securing a ‘Single Boat Payment’ which would go a long way towards lifting the financial burden on the South Down fishing industry.

[caption id="attachment_54533" align="alignleft" width="390"]Chris Hazzard MLA   at a meeting with DARD Fisheries Minister Michelle O'Neill at Stormont. Chris Hazzard MLA at a meeting with DARD Fisheries Minister Michelle O’Neill at Stormont.[/caption]

He explained: “This scheme” is an idea that has emanated from our own local engagement in South Down with the fishing industry in Ardglass and Kilkeel. My Sinn Féin MEP colleagues in Europe are actively promoting it because it would directly help fishermen experiencing financial hardship, in the same way that the ‘Single Farm Payment’ does for small farmers.”

Mr Hazzard added: “Fishermen too often put their lives at risk to provide an income for their families. They experience financial hardship, especially when severe weather doesn’t allow them to work for long periods. This scheme would offer two very important improvements to the lives of local fishermen in South Down. It would provide financial security when weather conditions make it impossible for their vessels to leave port, as well as improving work safety.”

He is closely following developments in Strasbourg, and is being kept up to date by Sinn Féin Martina Anderson MEP and her team who recently met Karmenu Villa, the European Commissioner for Fisheries in Strasbourg, to outline the ‘Single Boat Payment’ proposal.

Mr Hazzard said: “it is proposed that the scheme would be funded through the EMFF (European Maritime and Fisheries Fund), offering vulnerable fishermen, a deal which would be in line with what’s being given to small farmers.”

“Commissioner Villa commended the proposal put to him by Sinn Féin and accepted that it would be beneficial to hard-pressed fishermen. He also said it would be strongly considered by the European Commission.

“It’s only fair that Europe provides support for fishermen in the same way it does for farmers. Martina Anderson will be in touch with progress. If we’re successful, it would mean so much to families in South Down, where most of the North’s fishing industry is located.”