The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine and Donegal TD Charlie McConalogue has met with the Donegal County Council Fisheries Committee.
The meeting allowed the Minister to hear at first hand the issues of concern and importance to the fishing sector in Donegal from Donegal county councillors.
The meeting was wide ranging and covered the impacts of the EU/UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement on fisheries, and supports for fishers, opportunities for investment in the industry including on local piers and harbours and Government plans for Marine Spatial planning.
The Minister listened to the impacts of the transfer of quota shares from the EU and the UK on the fishing industry in Donegal.
He said: “I am fully aware that the loss of fishing quota and particularly the transfers to our mackerel quota and whitefish stocks in the north-west is a cause of considerable concern to the industry here.
"I have made clear both within the formal EU Fisheries Councils and at bilateral meetings that the quota transfers that fall to us in Ireland are disproportionate in terms of burden sharing.
"I have called for mechanisms to be found to rebalance the payment more fairly and I intend to continue, working with the industry, to use every opportunity to press for a rebalancing of the transfers in Ireland’s favour.”
The Minister explained his plans for responding to the challenges arising from Brexit telling the Committee.
“I have set up the Seafood Sector Taskforce, which meets for the first time today, to make recommendations on measures to mitigate the impacts on the Irish Fishing industry, and on the coastal communities that depend on fisheries, of the fish quota share reductions arising from the EU/UK Trade & Cooperation Agreement.
"The Taskforce is chaired by Aidan Cotter, barrister and former CEO of Bord Bia. Mr Cotter will be assisted by a steering group comprised of Margaret Daly - Deputy CEO of seafood processor Errigal Bay Ltd and Mícheal Ó Cinnéide, member of the Aquaculture Licensing Appeals Board and former Director of the EPA and Marine Institute.
"Taskforce members are drawn from the fishing, aquaculture and seafood processing sectors, community development interests and a range of development agencies with an interest in the economic development of our coastal communities.”
He continued: “In relation to investment in infrastructure, my Department provides limited funding to assist Local Authorities carry out small scale projects for the development and repair of piers, harbours and slipways in their ownership which have a link the fishing industry.
"I am happy to say that I have also increased funding for Local Authority capital projects nationally in 2021 to €3.6m, which is a 20% increase in 2020 funding.”
The Minister concluded: “I have provided €21m for the final phase of the 120 metre extension project at Smooth Point in Killybegs Fishery Harbour Centre, which is expected to be completed this year.
"This will support Killybegs attracting increased fish landings from both Irish and foreign fishing vessels and in this way continue to ensure that it is the primary centre for pelagic landings in the EU and a major centre for whitefish landings.
"I thank all the members of the Committee and the stakeholders for their engagement and work on fishing and I look forward to working with them in the time ahead.”
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