McConalogue announces details of aquaculture support scheme

Minister for Agriculture Food and the Marine Charlie McConalogue has announced a special Covid-19 financial support scheme for rope mussel and oyster farmers under his department’s European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF) Programme 2014-2020.

It will be co-funded by the Government of Ireland and the European Union (EU).

Aquaculture includes the culture or farming of fish, aquatic invertebrates, aquatic plants or any aquatic form of food suitable for the nutrition of fish.

Speaking at the Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) aquaculture webinar today Thursday, October 22, Minister McConalogue said: “Rope mussel and oyster farmers were significantly impacted in the first half of 2020 by the market access and price difficulties caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

While these issues eased as the first wave of the pandemic passed, the impacts of lost sales and production left a lasting financial burden on these aquaculture enterprises.

“Rope mussel farmers suffered a 34% fall in sales between February and June, while oyster farmers suffered a sales drop of 59%.

“The continued viability of these SME enterprises is jeopardised by these unprecedented shocks to their businesses, with many struggling to cover their fixed costs and to fund the cost of purchasing seed to grow their next crops,” the minister said.

Funding scheme

Minister McConalogue added: “I am announcing today a special support scheme for these oyster and rope mussel producers that will provide a fixed, one-off payment of between €6,800 and €16,300 to each eligible oyster farming business and between €1,300 and €9,000 for rope mussel producers.

The payments will vary according to three size classes based on records of previous production levels held by BIM [Bord Iascaigh Mhara].

“I anticipate that BIM will be inviting applications in early November with a view to paying successful applicants in 2020,” concluded the minister.