Ireland’s Eel Management Plan (EMP), including the closure of commercial fishing, was approved, in 2009, by the European Commission under EU Regulation 1100/2007. Fishing for eel was by way of public licence and therefore the issue of compensation does not arise. However, both Minister Naughten and I have secured Exchequer funding for a support measure for former licensed fishermen.
Officials have engaged with the European Commission in relation to Ireland's proposals to fund a support scheme for former eel fishermen and the Department has received written advice from the Revenue Commissioners regarding the tax treatment of any payments under such a scheme.
It is intended that the scheme will be open to former fishermen who held an Inland Fisheries Ireland eel fishing licence or a permit from ESB in the period prior to the closure under the EU Regulation of 2007. Officials have also worked with IFI and ESB to verify catch records declared by fishermen.
I expect that an announcement of the scheme, including qualifying criteria and other conditions and a timeframe for prospective payments, will be made shortly.