The NI Executive today (28 February 2014) gave approval to a support package, worth between £400,000 and £500,000, for fishermen who have been challenged financially due to the exceptionally poor weather this winter.[caption id="attachment_34984" align="alignleft" width="390"] The Fisheries MInister has explained in more detail how the emergency support to fishermen will unfold.[/caption]
Speaking after today’s Executive meeting, NI Fisheries Minister O’Neill said: “The hardship that fishermen and their families have endured as a result of fishermen unable to put to sea due to the stormy weather has had a real impact, and I am therefore pleased that my proposals have been approved to help address the severe difficulties they have been facing.” The Minister added that she is determined to get support onto the ground quickly. Explaining how this would happen, the Minister said: “I have asked my officials to develop and implement a time bounded scheme offering support to the owners of vessels who are active fishermen, and by that I mean those licence holders who can demonstrate they have been engaged in at least 50 days fishing activity in the past 12 months.[caption id="attachment_34982" align="alignright" width="200"] Northern Ireland DARD Minister Michele O’Neill[/caption]
“Those individuals unable to meet this requirement cannot be deemed an active fisherman for the purposes of this targeted support. I also propose to limit the scheme to vessels under 27 metres. This distinction reinforces my desire to target support towards those in our fishing industry who need it most. I would encourage vessel owners to take advantage of this support to mitigate hardship including among their crews and their families.” The Minister added that she hopes to appoint a Fisheries Taskforce to identify how we best build a sustainable and resilient fishing industry which will inform her vision and policies for the future.
She explained: “I want this Taskforce to undertake a fundamental examination of the challenges and opportunities facing the industry and to identify options for reform to help to ensure the future sustainability of the local fishing sector. The Taskforce will help identify the key priorities under the new European Maritime and Fisheries Fund and advise how this fund can best help to assist the industry meet its obligations under the reformed Common Fisheries Policy.”]]>