The Government has announced a €35m scheme to rejuvenate local authority public piers and harbours.
Agriculture Minister Charlie McConalogue said the scheme is proposed for funding under the EU Brexit Adjustment Reserve (BAR) fund, and was one of the recommendations of the seafood sector taskforce that was established by the minister following Brexit.
“This record funding for our coastal communities is an unprecedented opportunity for us to invest in our publicly-owned piers and harbours, and will shape the future of our coastal communities,” he said.
“Brexit has and will continue to affect our seafood sector in a unique way compared to other industries.
In the wake of the Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA) agreed in December 2020 between the EU and the UK, Mr McConalogue set up the seafood taskforce in March 2021 to look at the impacts specifically on the fishing sector and coastal communities.
Irish fishing quotas were slashed by 26,412 tonnes, mainly so that the TCA deal could get over the line.
While Britain can fish for 75% of fish in its own waters, Ireland is only allowed by the EU to fish for about 38% of the available fish in Irish waters.
In its report, published last October, the taskforce noted that many coastal structures, which are both important landmarks and facilities to the local communities, have declined in structural integrity and effective use over the years.
The new investment scheme focuses on shovel-ready projects to give immediate construction stimulus to the coastal communities affected by the TCA, and is targeted to attract such projects of up to €1m budget during 2022 and 2023.
It also offers the possibility of funding larger projects where there is particular exposure to Brexit due to proximity to UK waters and loss of fishing opportunities. The projects will be delivered by the local authority which owns and maintains the relevant marine infrastructure.
Mr McConalogue encouraged local authorities to make full use of the opportunity, saying: “So much of the outcome of Brexit has been bad news for local coastal communities. Now we have this opportunity to support economic growth and mitigate the negative impacts for these communities. Ireland has fought hard for a fair BAR allocation; now we must put it to good use.”