Ireland’s fishing fleet is likely to be slashed because of Brexit, an interim Government report on the impact of Brexit on the fishing industry has concluded.
The cuts will, the Government hopes, ensure those left in the industry can survive on a “sustainable” footing.
While measures being discussed include a temporary voluntary cessation scheme for fishers, other measures include cutting the number of vessels in the fleet altogether.
News of the potential cuts comes as thehas learned that Taoiseach Micheál Martin has agreed to meet fishing industry representatives demanding more support at EU and other levels.
They are looking for a variety of measures to save their industry, including higher quotas, the right to fish at Rockall, and an end to the latest requirement that their fish be weighed on arrival in a port.
So frustrated are fishers about the way they feel they have been treated that around 70 vessels formed a protest flotilla that sailed into the Port of Cork last month.
Shortly after they arrived, the fishers, who are due to be part of a larger protest flotilla heading to Dublin Port on June 23, presented Mr Martin’s constituency staff with a list of fishing industry demands.
Both the Taoiseach and Marine Minister Charlie McConalogue will meet the fishers virtually on Monday.
In its interim report, the Seafood Sector Taskforce is focusing on “arrangements for a temporary voluntary fleet tie-up scheme” to counter the impact of the reduction in quotas.
The task force is also charged with coming up with a voluntary decommissioning scheme and other initiatives to address the implications of Brexit.
It also has to come up with “developmental strategies” to strengthen and enhance coastal communities dependent on the seafood industry.
Mr McConalogue set up the task force to examine the implications of Brexit for the Irish fishing industry and coastal communities.
The task force was also charged with recommending initiatives that could sustain a fishing fleet on one hand and help to lessen the impact on those who will probably have to leave it on the other hand.
The task force has met on seven occasions and received a total of 57 submissions from its members and through the public consultation process.
The establishment of the Seafood Sector Taskforce is an action in the department’s Action Plan 2021 under the strategic goal to "deliver a sustainable, competitive and innovative seafood sector, driven by a skilled workforce, delivering value-added products in line with consumer demand".
Brexit is costing individual fishermen and women between €5,000 and €20,000 in lost income.
While Britain can fish for 75% of fish in its waters, Ireland is only allowed by the EU to fish for 15% of the available fish in Irish waters.
It is estimated that job losses of 4,000 or more in both the catching sector at sea and the processing sector onshore are on the cards.
Many fishers feel the future of a €1bn-a-year industry that employs 16,000 people is in doubt.