My Department's €240 million European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF) Operational Programme 2014-20 is the vehicle for financial supports to the seafood sector up to 2021 and is co-funded by the Government of Ireland and the European Union. The Programme delivers a wide range of supports for fisheries, aquaculture and seafood processing through a suite of 18 schemes.
There are specific and separate EU regulations covering development funding for the agriculture sector and the seafood sector and these are quite different. The EMFF Regulation (508/2014) does not have any specific provision to allow a higher rate of support for young fishermen or any young person in the seafood sector.
However, there are some special supports for young fishermen and new entrants. The EMFF New Fishermen Scheme provides grants to encourage fishermen under the age of 40 to establish themselves in the fishing industry by aiding the acquisition cost of their first fishing vessel. The Scheme aids up to 25% of the acquisition costs of the vessel or €75,000, whichever is the lesser. Separately, new entrants to the aquaculture sector can avail of an additional 10% support (50% total) compared to the usual 40% support rate for other operators under the Sustainable Aquaculture Scheme, which supports capital investment in aquaculture sites.
More generally, most fishing vessels in the Irish fleet fall under the definition of Small Scale coastal Fisheries vessels, and can avail of very generous grants of 70% for capital investments on board and 80% for other investments, such as value adding investments ashore, lobster v-notching etc.