While the proposed Regulation establishing the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF) is progressing towards adoption, it is not expected to be adopted in law by the EU institutions until probably June this year. I am aware that the Commission has encouraged Member States to make use of article 33c to contribute to mutual funds established by fishermen to assist fishermen with economic losses caused by adverse climatic events. However, distribution of the EMFF funds amongst Member States has not yet been determined by the EU Commission and pending that, Ireland has been allocated no specific funding under the EMFF at this point.
My Department is working to prepare a new 7-year Operational Programme for the seafood sector under the EMFF. Work on that Programme is dependent on the progress of the proposed Regulation and the allocation of funds by the Commission, so given the likely adoption date of June, the Programme is likely to be finalised towards the end of the year. Decisions on what to do with the finite resources available to Ireland under that Operational Programme will be a key element of that work and I am working closely with all stakeholders in making those hard choices between many competing and worthwhile alternative investment priorities. It is thus premature to consider employing the EMFF for this specific purpose.