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Saturday 30 September 2023 Dublin: 13°C
Shutterstock/Bartosz Luczak
# anglers
Eel fishermen who went out of business after Irish ban may soon receive financial support
The government has opened up talks with the European Commission to set up a support programme.

THE GOVERNMENT HAS said it is in talks with the European Commission with a view to putting in place financial supports for eel fishermen.

A total ban on eel fishing was introduced in 2010 to allow eel stocks to increase.

This week Sinn Féin’s Matt Carthy said many Irish anglers have been without a vital source of income since then.

In response to a question from Sinn Féin MEP Matt Carthy, the European Commission confirmed to Carthy that the Irish government could have included compensation from European funds for these anglers in its programme, but it chose not to.

The European Commission said the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF) may be used to compensate for temporary cessation of fishing activities.

“Carthy said that “while there is no doubt over the need to increase eel stocks, there has been a growing sense that an outright ban without any accompanying Government efforts to improve stock or compensation to affected Irish fishermen, is unfair”.

It is totally unfair to anglers and fishermen whose fishing equipment has been rendered worthless overnight and who have lost their entire livelihoods as a result of the ban. The fact that the government itself has not undertaken any recovery measures to help the stock recover going beyond the ban, shows that there is no commitment to lift what was supposed to be a temporary ban in the Irish case.

In response to a query from on the issue, the Department Agriculture, Food and Marine said that the decision was taken not to include support from the EMFF in its programme as “the available funds were prioritised for other measures”.

“Fishing vessels are not used for eel fishing in Ireland and fishing for eels, in inland waterways has not taken place since 2008, so this provision is not relevant to eel fishermen,” it said.

However the Department of Communications, Climate Action and the Environment said it has opened up discussions with the European Commission on the topic.

“Minister Naughten and Minister of State Kyne recognise fully the difficulty faced by former eel fishermen,” the department said.

“However, there is no property right attaching to public eel licences and, consequently, the issue of “compensation” does not arise.  Notwithstanding this, a support measure for former licenced eel fishermen has been proposed subject to affirmative comment and acceptance by the European Commission.

“Both Ministers have jointly worked to ensure that Exchequer funding will be available for such a support scheme.”

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