Generous Dutch scheme leading to rumoured reinvestment – but Irish owners unhappy at payment delays

In the wake of the Brexit TCA settlement, a number of EU states took advantage of EU funds available to compensate for reductions in quotas to their national fleets.

One of the last of the decommissioned beamers being broken up in the Netherlands. (Photo: Rypke Zeilmaker)

Whilst the Netherlands decommissioning scheme is progressing rapidly – and is leading to growing reports of Dutch owners looking to buy vessels and licences on other flags – those in the Irish industry are raising concerns about the slow progress of their scheme. There have been complaints about delays to payments to many owners who reluctantly decided to leave the industry.

Eight of the 57 Irish boats accepted for decommissioning have been scrapped, but to date just three owners have been paid in full. BIM has suggested that 42 of the 57 have formally accepted offers and that those vessels are in the process of being scrapped.

According to Bord Iascaigh Mhara, another six boat owners are still waiting for 50% of the money they are due, the payments being triggered when vessel licences have been removed from the boats.

Only two breakers are authorised to undertake the decommissioning work, and both are understood to have waiting lists from owners who have accepted their decommissioning offers. Under the offer conditions, vessels must be scrapped by the end of October, leading to concerns from many owners that they will not be able to meet deadlines.

Irish South and West Fish Producers’ Organisation chief executive Patrick Murphy said: “There is widespread unhappiness among those who have accepted decommissioning. The fact that just three of the eight boat owners have been paid in full and six others have only received half speaks volumes.”

Ireland’s fishing industry losses from Brexit have been calculated at around €43m a year at first-sale value by 2026, as the TCA phase- in of quota changes is reached – the largest of any EU member state. The Irish decommissioning scheme was originally capped at €60m, but then received an additional €15m in funds from the Irish government.

The speed of the decommissioning scheme in the Netherlands is in marked contrast to that in Ireland, where many owners are complaining about delays. The majority of the Dutch vessels pictured here this spring have already been broken up.

In the Netherlands, meanwhile, €155m was made available, in a scheme that Dutch fishermen say has ‘torn the heart out of the industry’. Eighty vessels applied to leave the industry, 70 of which were accepted, the majority of them beamers.

The funds available to Dutch owners are seen as relatively generous. This is thought to be one reason behind renewed interest by many owners in purchasing additional vessels, on the UK register as well as in other EU member states.

Two different decommissioning schemes are open in Denmark. In the TCA/ Brexit-related scheme, 31 vessels have received offers totalling just over 200m kroner – £23m – to reflect loss of quota as a result of Brexit. This scheme closes in June.

The scheme for the Danish Baltic Sea fleet, which is aimed at smaller vessels, has seen 33 vessels offered a total of 50m kroner, around £6m. They have until September to make a final decision and surrender their licences.

This story was taken from the latest issue of Fishing News. For more up-to-date and in-depth reports on the UK and Irish commercial fishing sector, subscribe to Fishing News here or buy the latest single issue for just £3.30 here

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