Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Charlie McConalogue today welcomed the decision by the EU Commission to adopt the European Maritime, Fisheries and Aquaculture Fund (EMFAF) Programme 2021-27 for Ireland.
“I am pleased to announce that today the EU Commission has adopted the €258 million EMFAF Seafood Development Programme which envisages significant funding in our seafood sector and our coastal communities. These communities have faced extraordinary challenges in recent times, particularly due to Brexit and the Trade and Cooperation Agreement. In 2021, I established the Seafood Task Force to make recommendations to address the challenges arising from these events and I have since announced €225 million in supports utilising the Brexit Adjustment Reserve. This new programme provides for additional, longer term supports to enable our seafood sector to engage in transformational change and for our coastal communities to thrive.”
The EMFAF supports the EU Common Fisheries Policy (CFP), the EU Maritime Policy and the EU agenda for international ocean governance. Building on the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF) 2014-2020, it provides supports to achieve food security through the supply of seafood products, growth of a sustainable blue economy and healthy, safe and sustainably managed seas and oceans.
Minister McConalogue in the preparations for the new EMFAF Seafood Development Programme, which runs up to 2027, has secured an increase in overall funding over the previous EMFF programme. The new EMFAF Seafood Development Programme envisages funding up to €258.4 million, which includes a €134 million EU contribution and a Government of Ireland contribution of €116 million.
The EMFAF Programme aims to support a diverse range of activities within the marine area. For fisheries, the Programme will support capital investment on board, capital investment ashore relating to the landing obligation, innovation in fishing gear and methods, technical advice to the fleet, acquisition of first vessel by young fishers, supports to the inshore fleet, training and marketing.
For aquaculture, the Programme will support implementation of the National Strategic Plan for Aquaculture. This will include in particular support for capital investment in aquaculture sites, supports for innovation and research to develop technology and enhance knowledge, advisory services, training and marketing.
For processing, the Programme will support capital investment in seafood processing enterprises, in particular to add value to raw material, enhance energy efficiency, reduce CO2 emissions, and enhance competitiveness. It will also support innovation to develop new products, advisory services, marketing and training.
The Programme will support the socio-economic development and diversification of coastal communities through the seven Fisheries Local Action Groups. This will carry on from the Brexit Blue Economy Enterprise Development Scheme, implemented through the FLAGs over 2022/23, but will also have a broader remit to support community type projects.
The Programme will support Ireland's environmental obligations through a continuation of the EMFF Marine Biodiversity Scheme. This will fund appropriate assessment of fisheries and aquaculture activities, reporting on the Marine Strategy framework Directive, projects in support of the CFP, and species and habitat restoration.
The Programme will support enhancement of Ireland's knowledge of its marine environment, particularly in terms of enhancing knowledge of climate change impacts on fish stocks, habitats and species.
Lastly the Programme will fund Ireland's compliance with its obligations under the CFP, specifically for fisheries protection and for fisheries management science. Minister McConalogue added:
“The programme has been developed in cooperation with a wide range of stakeholders to ensure we can help our seafood sector and coastal communities to maximise their potential while protecting our marine environment and its rich biodiversity.”
Notes for Editors:
The European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF) 2014-2020 was established by EU regulation (508/2014). Ireland’s EMFF Programme was adopted in 2015 and was co-funded by the European Union and Government of Ireland. Through this joint funding €240 million was allocated to the programme.
The European Maritime, Fisheries and Aquaculture Fund (EMFAF) 2021-2027 is the successor to EMFF and a new programme has been developed to fulfil its objectives in an Irish context. The Irish Government has once again committed to co-funding the programme, on its adoption, and has increased its contribution to €116m to deliver a Programme fund of €258.4 million.
In 2021, Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Charlie McConalogue TD established the Seafood Task Force to examine the impacts of the Trade and Cooperation Agreement on the fisheries sector and coastal communities and consider initiatives to address those impacts. The Task Force published its report in October 2021 and many of the recommendations in that report have been implemented using funding under the Brexit Adjustment Reserve.
The development of Ireland’s programme under the EMFAF was paused while the Task Force was developing its report in order to ensure that supports for the seafood sector and coastal communities were delivered in a coordinated manner and so that the programme could integrate any longer term recommendations made by the Task Force.