Tuesday 16 October 2018
Sean Kyne TD, Minister with responsibility for the Inland Fisheries sector today announced the establishment a 'Support Fund' to address the hardship experienced by commercial eel fishermen and women. The scheme, which is expected to cost approx. €3m, relates to licenced or permitted fishermen and women affected by the Government decision to align the wild eel fishery with scientific advice on eel stocks.
Minister Kyne said, "the fund is a restitution payment specifically targeted at former eel fishermen and women who were actively engaged with the commercial eel fishery prior to the drawing up of the National Eel Management Plans and a public consultation during 2008 which ultimately led to closure of the commercial eel fishery".
"I want to acknowledge the efforts of Denis Naughten who worked with me over the last year to secure Exchequer funding to assist former fishermen and women who had experienced hardship as a result of the restrictions. In addition we have overseen consultation with the European Commission on the proposed fund and liaison with the Revenue Commissioners on the potential tax treatment of persons receiving payments. I have asked Inland Fisheries Ireland to administer the fund on behalf of the Department", he added.
Details of qualifying criteria as follows:
- The fund is available to all commercial eel licence holders who held a licence (or an eel fishing permit from the E.S.B.) in the 2007 season.
- A tax free sum may be paid to licence or permit holders in respect of each of the five reckonable years (2003-2007) for which they were a licence or permit holder.
- A further taxable payment may be made to licence or permit holders in respect of the average of their catches, based on State held records, during the five reckonable years (2003-2007)
Licence /Permit payments:
This element of the support payment is tax exempt. Once a licence or permit was held in 2007, the records for prior years are taken into consideration.
|Year||Single Licence||Shared Licence / Permit|
Catch Related Payments
Bands of payments taxable for average catch over years fished in the datum years. Once a licence or permit was held in 2007, the fisherman's or woman's catch records for prior years (2003-2007) are taken into consideration towards an average annual catch.
|Catch Range Kilos||Gross Payment|
It is intended that the scheme will be open for applications from Monday 22 October 2018 and applications must be received by 5.00pm 30 November 2018. Application forms and detailed information on the scheme, including supporting information required, appeals mechanisms etc., will be available from Inland Fisheries Ireland Offices and may be downloaded from the IFI website www.fisheriesireland.ie from the opening date of 22 October.
The fund will be paid over a period of three years and the amount will be paid in three instalments. The first non-taxable instalment will be paid (if the application is verified and approved by IFI) before 31st December 2018. Subject to verification of tax compliance, it is intended that the first taxable instalment will be also be paid before 31 December 2018. The two further instalments in the two subsequent years (2019 and 2020).
Background to fishery Closure:
Following the advice from the International Council for the exploration of the Seas (ICES) that the stock is endangered, the EU commission implemented Regulation EC 1000/2007) requiring all member states to create a National Eel Management Plan.
A public consultation process on Ireland's Eel Management Plan was held during 2008 with inputs from stakeholders and the Standing scientific Committee on Eels comprising scientists from a range of organisations. In 2008 fishery management measures were introduced while the eel management plans were drawn up. Given the implications of the scientific advice, the consideration of practical management implications and the need to conserve and recover the stock, the precautionary approach was adopted in accordance with the recommendations of the National Eel Working Group and the eel fishery was ceased before the 2009 season. Ireland Eel Management Plan, including the closure, was approved by the European Commission.
Ireland's EMP was reviewed in 2012 and again in 2015. Both reviews included a comprehensive scientific assessment of eel stocks nationally and detailed public consultation processes. Both reviews concluded that measures within the EMP should be continued.
The latest advice from the International Council for the Exploration of the Seas (ICES) in Oct 2017 is that "The status of eel remains critical and ICES advises that all anthropogenic mortality (e.g. recreational and commercial fishing, hydropower, pumping stations, and pollution) affecting production and escapement of silver eels should be reduced to – or kept as close to – zero as possible.