The Government’s Eel Fisherpersons Support Scheme was established in 2018 with projected funding of up to €3m for support of former fisherpersons. This projected maximum funding was based on the potential maximum number of applicants, considered in the context that the fishery had been closed for the previous 10 years and that former fisherpersons were free not to apply. Following consultation with the European Commission and the Revenue Commissioners, the scheme which was launched in October 2018, was administered by Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI). An information booklet on the scheme, which included the basis for calculating payments, was made publically available and was circulated to applicants in advance of the application process.
The scheme was available to persons who had held a fishing licence or permit in 2007 (the base year). A tax free sum was paid to qualifying persons in respect of each of the five reckonable years (2003-2007). A further taxable payment was made to eligible persons in respect of the average of their catches, based on State held records of catches contemporaneously declared by the applicants themselves, during the five reckonable years.
There was a very wide range of payment levels in line with the significant variance in individual applicants’ track record on licence/permit holding and declared catches in the fishery. A total of €2,021,500 was paid out to 121 qualifying applicants.
A provision for the administrative costs of IFI were provided separately from the fund for payment to applicants and this amounted to €72,410 over the three years 2108 to 2020.
All payments to qualifying applicants have been made and the fund is now closed.