Dáil Éireann - Volume 487 - 17 February, 1998

Written Answers. - Fishing Industry Aid Package.

35. Mr. Gilmore asked the Minister for the Marine and Natural Resources the plans, if any, [507] he has to compensate or otherwise assist fishermen who were unable to put to sea for up to five weeks due to weather conditions in December 1997 and January 1998; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3875/98]

Minister for the Marine and Natural Resources (Dr. Woods): I have already indicated to the House in recent weeks that I would be open to considering any substantiated case for assistance made by fishing organisations for losses incurred because of bad weather of exceptional severity and duration, in light of Met Éireann weather data and within the parameters of EU legislation. I remind Deputies, however, that under EU State Aid rules, approval for financial assistance to the fishing sector must be obtained from the European Commission. The commission has consistently stated that EU funding will not be made available to compensate for bad weather. The commission has also affirmed that it opposes national compensation schemes in this regard.

I have to date received two formal requests for bad weather compensation from sectors of the fishing industry. These are currently being examined by the Department. In order to inform evaluation and decisions on any such requests from the industry, I had already requested the Department to undertake a comprehensive analysis of weather data as well as landing and sales data for the period November 1997 to January and for comparative periods. This analysis is under way.