Gildernew Announces aid for Fishing Industry
Sinn Féin Fisheries Minister, Michelle Gildernew MP MLA has announced £12.76m (€18.1m) funding under the European Fisheries Fund (EFF) for the local fishing industry.
The EFF will replace the current grant Financial Instrument for Fisheries Guidance (FIFG) scheme next year.
Ms Gildernew said:
"The European Fisheries Fund will help all of us achieve the overall aim of a strong fishing industry that supports local communities in the longer term.
"This new funding's focus will be upon providing a sustainable future for the fishing industry through innovation and technology. This will be achieved in a number of ways including new investment and wider use of the latest technologies, alongside improving supply chain and environmental awareness.
"Some of this new funding will also be used to help tackle social exclusion and promote prosperity in areas traditionally dependent on the fishing industry where this support cannot be provided elsewhere."
The Department for Agriculture and Rural Development is currently working on a draft operational programme which will guide the implementation of the EFF. The draft programme will be the subject of a 12-week public consultation beginning in February 2008.
The Minister also announced the re-opening of five schemes for grant assistance to the local fisheries sector under the Financial Instrument for Fisheries Guidance.
The grants opportunities relate to: Safety Equipment and Training; Marketing and Quality on board Fishing Vessels; Aquaculture; Processing and Marketing of Freshwater and Marine Products; and Improvement of Facilities at Fishing Ports.
Applications to the Department's Fisheries Division are now invited from those wishing to apply for grant aid. The five schemes will open simultaneously until all monies are expended. While no upper limit is specified for funding, eligible projects must be capable of being implemented within a timeframe that will ensure completion by 30 November 2008.
Copies of application forms and guidance notes are available at www.eugrants.org.
NOTES TO EDITORS
- On 27 July 2006 a new European Fisheries Fund (EFF) was approved by EC Regulation 1198/2006 to replace the current fishery grants programme under the Financial Instrument for Fisheries Guidance (FIFG). The North's share of the EFF is £12.76m.
- The EFF will run for seven years, with a total budget of around € 3.8 billion. Funding will be available for all sectors of the industry - sea and inland fisheries, aquaculture businesses, producer organisations, and the processing and marketing sectors - as well as for fisheries areas. It is a matter for Member States to decide how they allocate funds between the different priorities set. The Fund will particularly focus on:
supporting the major objectives of the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP), particularly those agreed during the reform of the policy in 2002. This includes in particular the sustainable exploitation of fisheries resources and achieving a stable balance between these resources and the capacity of community fishing fleet;
strengthening the competitiveness and the viability of operators in the sector; promoting environmentally-friendly fishing and production methods; providing adequate support to people employed in the sector; fostering the sustainable development of fisheries areas.
- Under the Commission's rules the EU grant must be matched by public expenditure. Funding will be available for all sectors - sea and inland fisheries, aquaculture businesses, producer organisations, processing and marketing businesses - as well as for fisheries community areas. Some of the initiatives will require EU and national grant to be supplemented by private sector investment
- The Safety Equipment and Training Scheme is aimed at encouraging the fish catching sector to improve safety standards and to maintain the standards required for the Maritime Coastguard Agency safety certificate and inspection. Funding of up to 40% of project costs is available. Details of equipment eligible for grant aid may be obtained from DARD Fisheries Division.
- The Marketing and Quality on board Fishing Vessels Scheme is aimed at improving the hygiene and refrigeration facilities on board fishing vessels. Funding of up to 40% of project costs is available.
- The Aquaculture Scheme is aimed at encouraging the expansion of aquaculture production in Northern Ireland to broaden the base of species currently being cultivated, to exploit market potential through the cultivation of high value species, and to increase quality to improve production methods. Funding of up to 40% of project costs is available.
- The Processing and Marketing of Freshwater and Marine Products Scheme is aimed at encouraging investment in the fish processing sector to enhance market opportunities for primary producers and to increase the competitiveness of participating businesses. Funding of up to 40% of project costs is available.
- The Scheme for the Improvement of Facilities at the North's Fishing Ports is aimed at encouraging the provision of safe, modern and well maintained fishery harbours. Funding rate will take account of applicant's ability to contribute towards total costs.
For further information on the above schemes and copies of application forms and guidance notes, please contact:
DARD - Fisheries Division
BELFAST BT4 3SB
Tel: 028 9037 8319
Fax: 028 9037 8323
E-mail: michael.o'[email protected]
Copies of the application forms and guidance notes are also available on the internet at www.eugrants.org
Assistance to the Fishing Industry will be provided under the Financial Instrument for Fisheries Guidance (FIFG) Council Regulation No. 2792/99 (as amended). These Schemes are part of a total funding package of €29 million provided by the European Commission over the period 2000-2006.