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Coveney Announces Inshore Fisheries Structures, Development and Conservation Package including €1M Funding for 2014

The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Simon Coveney T.D. today announced a package of measures to develop the inshore fisheries sector. The package is targeted at the inshore fishing sector and consists of three parts including:

(1)         The establishment of a National Inshore Fisheries Forum, supported by a network of Regional Inshore Forums in each of the FLAG regions,

(2)        A funding programme worth up to €1m for the inshore sector, and  

(3)        Conservation measures to support lobster and shrimp stocks.

The inshore sector (fishing boats of less than 12m overall length) comprise over 80% of the fishing fleet and are predominately active within 6 nautical miles of the shore.

Announcing the establishment of the National Inshore Fisheries Forum (NIFF) the Minister said “Ireland’s inshore fishermen are poorly represented by current structures and need a dedicated platform where they can discuss and develop common initiatives.  I hope that inshore fishermen will embrace this opportunity created by the new structures to have a coherent voice which can be heard clearly.”

The NIFF is being set up to encourage inshore fishermen using small fishing boats to participate in the management of fisheries within 6 nautical miles.  A network of Regional Inshore Forums (RIF’s), based on and linked to the community-led Fisheries Local Action Groups (FLAGs) around the Irish coast, will nominate delegates to bring forward regional proposals to the NIFF for wider industry discussion. The structures will also provide a new opportunity for future consultation with the inshore fishing sector.

The Minister committed to a total funding programme for inshore fishermen in 2014 worth up to €1m .This is aimed at providing financial assistance for sustainable, environmentally friendly fishing practices and the recent safety equipment and training initiative. Support will be available under the new Sustainable Inshore Fisheries Scheme for a range of measures including:

  • An enhanced v-notching programme with increased coverage around the coast (grant aid increased from current maximum 55% to 75%)
  • gear and equipment to support responsible fishing practices (such as mackerel jigging, potting for crayfish)
  • improvements in the area of quality, hygiene, and standards on board

A supplementary Shellfish Pot Replacement Scheme will also be launched to provide extended assistance to fishermen who lost pots during the exceptional winter storms, more than doubling the pot limits from 50 to 200 for boats less than 12m length and from 100 to 250 for boats from 12 to 15m in length.  Existing applicants to the current scheme will automatically be increased to the supplementary pot limits and a call for new applications will be advertised.

Following on extensive consultation in 2013, the Minister also approved plans to revise conservation measures for lobster and shrimp. Given the importance of very large lobsters to the reproductive potential of the stock, a maximum landing size for lobster of 127mm will be introduced by legislation in the coming months. During the first 2 years of operation of this new measure, fishermen will be paid up to 75% of the market price for v-notching ‘oversize’ lobsters and returning them live to sea. In addition the grant aid for voluntary V notching of Lobsters is being increased from the existing maximum of 55% to a new maximum of 75%.

A revised closing date for the shrimp fishery of 15 March instead of 1 May will commence from 2015 to provide stock protection during the spawning period.  Minister Coveney said “I am asking the Regional Inshore Forums, as a first initiative, to identify lobster stock enhancement areas within their regions where hatchery-grown juveniles could be released. Lobsters are one of the most important species to the inshore sector and we need to dedicate resources to ensure the long-term future of this valuable stock.  I have also asked BIM to work with the Marine Institute to develop a pilot project for a national lobster hatchery as an additional conservation tool.”

Notes for editors

Inshore Sector Industry Representation

Irish inshore fishing boats are deemed to be sea-fishing boats of less than 12m overall length.  These boats predominately operate within 6 nautical miles of the shore.  Figures from the national register at the end of December 2013 indicate that there are 1,773 inshore fishing boats in the Irish fleet. Traditionally, the Producer Organisations have been the primary industry contacts.  However, membership rates for inshore fishermen in the POs are very low (estimated at less than 4%).

The National Inshore Fisheries Forum and its network of Regional Inshore Forums are designed to enable inshore fishermen discuss and develop coherent widely supported initiatives by providing their own space for convening and bringing common initiatives forward.  There will be a Regional Inshore Forum set up for each of the 6 FLAG (Fisheries Local Action Group) regions.  The purpose of the Forums will primarily be to develop and facilitate implementation of policies and initiatives relating to the sustainable management of inshore fisheries within six nautical miles.

Funding Schemes

The Minister has asked BIM to set aside €1m from existing resources to target the development of the Irish inshore fishing fleet by promoting enhanced stock conservation and encouraging environmentally friendly fishing practices.  Financial assistance under the scheme will be available in line with EU funding rules.  The scheme is intended to foster and enhance conservation-minded fishing practices, both for stock conservation and protection of the marine environment, and to support safety awareness and training.  

Under the current National Lobster V-Notching Programme lobster fishermen and co-ops receive grant aid of 50% (individual) to 55% (as part of Co-op) of the market price of a lobster if it is v-notched by a BIM officer and returned alive to the sea by the fisherman in order to spawn. The rate of funding will now be increased to a maximum of 75%.  The increase in the rate of assistance will provide additional assistance to fishermen and their organisations with the objective of providing long-term protection for lobsters, the cornerstone of the earnings of the majority of inshore fishermen. The v-notching programme will also extend to ‘oversize’ lobsters for 2 years from the introduction of the maximum landing size (see conservation measures) to offset potential losses during the transition to the new measure.

Lobster & Shrimp Conservation Measures

In autumn 2013, proposals to change the national conservation measures for lobster and shrimp attracted over 250 submissions and a wide range of future options for the fisheries during public consultation. 

The new changes are aimed at ensuring long-term viability of the fisheries by protecting their reproductive potential.  In the case of shrimp, this is being achieved by bringing back the closing date from 1 May to 15 March commencing 2015 so that the fishery is closed during the spawning period.  To support lobster stocks, a range of measures are being adopted including:

  • A maximum landing size of 127mm to be introduced in the coming months – this will see larger lobsters with favourable reproductive potential put back into the fishery to contribute to future stock levels
  • Measures to improve consumer awareness of pot-caught Irish lobster
  • The development of a pilot national hatchery project by BIM and the MI to provide additional juveniles to be released to contribute to the national stocks. 

These lobster measures will also compliment the additional assistance being provided for v-notching, which has proved a popular and effective stock management tool.  The consultation reports can be found online at:  

Added 14.05.14

View this Press Release as a PDF: DAFMPR 73/2014 (pdf 151Kb) 




Date Released: 14 May 2014