Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Agriculture, Food, and the Marine Charlie McConalogue TD says the Minister for Agriculture, Food, and the Marine Michael Creed needs to review the COVID-19 Voluntary Fleet Tie-up Scheme and deliver supports for the fishing sector.

He commented, “The voluntary fleet tie-up scheme, announced some weeks ago by the Minister, has been widely rejected by stakeholders in the fishing industry. It has been described by some as not fit for purpose. While I appreciate the coronavirus pandemic is unprecedented and actions taken quickly, the Minister and his Officials need to go back to the drawing board and review this scheme.

“Currently, with restaurant closures there is a significant reduction in demand for seafood products. The pandemic has left many Irish fishermen without an income. Despite this there has been no financial supports directly for fishermen in their unique situation.

“The four producer organisations have put forward amendments to the tie-up scheme which they believe would work yet the Minister has not moved on reviewing the scheme. They have also sought financial support for a temporary tie-up scheme which would be based on 30% of the full grossing of the vessel in the same period as last year.

“The Minister needs to listen to the stakeholders in the industry. He is in a position of leadership and needs to bring people in this sector with him through this crisis. If he shows no flexibility on the scheme as currently proposed he risks irreversible damage to a sector which supports over 16k jobs in towns and villages up and down the country,” concluded Deputy McConalogue.