I propose to take Questions Nos. 346 and 350 together.
In the context of the Commission Proposal for a Regulation establishing a Brexit Adjustment Reserve, I am exploring a variety of possible measures to support our sector with the impacts of the quota transfers to the UK agreed under the Trade and Cooperation Agreement. This is likely to include a Temporary Fleet Tie-up Scheme to support the sector in the short term as the effects of the quota transfers begin to affect fishing opportunities, with a possible Fleet Decommissioning Scheme to follow that would seek to re-balance the fleet with the reduced quotas available.
However, as I announced to the Dail last week, I propose to set up a Task Force involving seafood industry representatives and representatives of other stakeholders to provide recommendations to me on the appropriate measures that will best support the sector and the local coastal communities with the impacts of the quota cuts. I will be ensuring a broad representation of our seafood sector, as it is important that there is full buy-in to the process.
I will be asking the task force to immediately focus on arrangements for the Fleet Temporary Tie-up Scheme, so that it can be ready to go live as soon as it is needed. I also expect that the Task Force will provide prioritised recommendations on a range of other appropriate measures that will allow our seafood sector and coastal communities to adjust to the impacts of the quota reductions.
In relation to safeguards to protect against the investment of aid payments to introduce new vessels in other fleet segments, I note that a Decommissioning Scheme funded under the Reserve would require a State Aid Notification to the European Commission. Commission State Aid approval would likely require that it follow the rules for similar schemes implemented under the new European Maritime Fisheries and Aquaculture Fund, which provide that the beneficiary of Decommissioning aid is prohibited from registering any fishing vessel within five years.
I am also conscious of the 2016 Cost Benefit Analysis report from Grant Thornton, commissioned by BIM, which recommended that any decommissioning scheme should only be implemented if fleet management measures could be introduced that specifically avoids future expansion of the active fleet that undermines the economic benefits brought about through decommissioning, ensures the benefits of the scheme achieved are maintained for those remaining, and prevents any competitive advantage for those that availed of the scheme. I will be asking the Task Force to consider the issues raised in the Grant Thornton Report.