A scheme has been approved by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine to provide €20m for capital investments to accelerate the sustainable growth of the aquaculture sector.

The scheme is based on a recommendation of the Seafood Task Force, which was established by the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine to assess the impacts of Brexit and the Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA) 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 Brexit on seafood processors impacted 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.

This will aid 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. 

Announcing the approval of the scheme, Minister McConalogue said: “Our aquaculture sector employs 2,000 people directly and supports thousands more in the local economies. There is even greater potential for growth. The supports for these producers will help create jobs and increase Ireland’s supply of high-quality seafood to local markets and for export.”

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.