Tuesday, 11 March 2014

Ceisteanna (443)

Brendan Griffin

Ceist:

443. Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if he will support a call for the reduction of harbour fees for fishermen who have been unable to fish for the past three months due to the adverse weather conditions; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11529/14]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

My Department is responsible for the six Fishery Harbour Centres located at Howth, Dunmore East, Castletownbere, Dingle, Rossaveel and Killybegs. Charges for the use of facilities and services at each of the Fishery Harbour Centres are levied by virtue of the Fishery Harbour Centres (Rates & Charges) Order 2012. My Department is not responsible for charges levied for the use of facilities and services at other harbours throughout the country.

With regard to the Fishery Harbour Centres, most of the charges levied on fishermen are as a direct result of fish landings. Fishermen who were unable to fish and whose vessels remained tied up in these harbours during the periods of inclement weather would not have incurred these charges in any event. That said, I am acutely aware that the severe weather conditions experienced in recent months had an adverse effect on the fishing opportunities available to large numbers of fishermen. I have consulted with fishermen and their representatives, and been advised by them regarding possible measures to alleviate the impacts the weather has had on their activities.

In recognition of the limited fishing opportunities and the resultant low uptake of fish quotas in January and February, my Department met with industry representatives at the monthly meeting of the quota management advisory committee. A decision was made to increase quota levels and fishing opportunities in March to re-balance the landings and bring them more in line with expected quota uptake over the first three months. The level recommended by the industry took account of concerns not to glut the market and depress prices with very high landings in a single month. The situation will be kept under review and if necessary a similar exercise may be under taken for April quotas.

On 12 February 2014, I informed the House that as part of its overall co-ordinated response to the impact of the recent unprecedented weather conditions, the Government had decided to allocate an additional €8.8 million for the repair of the public pier, harbour and slipway network linked to fisheries and aquaculture and to allocate up to €1.5 million to assist inshore fishermen in replacing lobster and shrimp pots lost or destroyed in the storms.

My Department has invited applications for funding from Local Authorities in respect of projects which relate to the repair of public Fishery and Aquaculture related harbours, piers and slipways damaged in the recent storm events. The closing date for applications was Friday, 28 February. The applications are currently being assessed. BIM has also opened, for applications, a new scheme providing aid of up to €2,400 for the replacement of pots lost in the storms.

In relation to any specific payments to compensate for lost earnings, the Minister for Social Protection has overall responsibility for funding income support to individuals and families in all sectors who have been unable to work because due to adverse weather conditions.