Irish government earmarks €20 million for post-Brexit aquaculture support scheme

Irish Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Charlie McConalogue, has confirmed the approval for a scheme that will provide €20 million (US$20.4 million) in funding for capital investments to accelerate the sustainable growth of the Irish aquaculture sector.

The scheme is based on a recommendation of the Seafood Task Force, which was established by the minister to assess the impacts of Brexit and the Trade and Cooperation Agreement on the fishing sector and coastal communities.

The Seafood Task Force recommended the aquaculture sector be provided with support for its development in order to mitigate against the collective negative impacts across sectors of the seafood industry. This scheme is proposed for funding under the Brexit Adjustment Reserve (BAR).

This scheme aims to mitigate the adverse economic and social consequences of the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the Union on seafood processors adversely affected by loss of raw material supply arising from the TCA quota reductions, aquaculture enterprises directly impacted by the UK withdrawal, and coastal communities adversely affected by a broad range of impacts arising from the TCA quota reductions and wider Brexit impacts.

The scheme aims to achieve these objectives by developing alternative sources of suitable employment in the coastal communities affected, by developing an alternative source of native raw material supply for seafood processors, and by enhancing the viability of aquaculture enterprises.

The three scheme objectives will be pursued by accelerating the sustainable growth of aquaculture enterprises, thus aiding enhanced local employment in coastal communities, producing more farmed fish to supply the processing sector and directly enhancing the viability of the aquaculture enterprises concerned.

This scheme will support aquaculture enterprises to undertake capital investment projects. These investments will enable aquaculture enterprises to sustainably grow production, value, and employment, will encourage the entry into the sector of new aquaculture enterprises and will support the evolution of SME enterprises through scaling up.

While investment will generally be supported at a maximum of 40 per cent of eligible costs, a higher incentive rate of 50 per cent will apply to certain climate change investments, to investment in seaweed aquaculture and to investment in Recirculating Aquaculture System (RAS) and Integrated Multi-trophic Aquaculture (IMTA) aquaculture projects. Funding will be prioritised for projects that contribute most to the objectives of the scheme, to climate change objectives, and to prioritisation of SMEs generally.

Based on the recommendation by the Task Force, the scheme will support investments in modernisation and capacity building, increasing added-value in products, improving energy supply and efficiency, and reducing environmental impact. Importantly, the scheme will also support new entrants into the aquaculture industry.

Grants of 30 per cent to 50 per cent of eligible costs will be available.

An Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM) will be administering the scheme, and the minister has requested that BIM open its call for applications as soon as possible. Due to the time limitations placed on BAR funding, investment projects must be completed by October 2023 to qualify for funding.

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