The Sea Fish Industry (Coronavirus) (Fixed Costs) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2021

Part of Executive Committee Business – in the Northern Ireland Assembly at 1:30 pm on 5th July 2021.

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Photo of Philip McGuigan Philip McGuigan Sinn Féin 1:30 pm, 5th July 2021

I welcome the opportunity to outline the views of the Committee.

The Committee considered the regulations at SL1 stage on 10 June 2021 and welcomes the introduction of the scheme that extends a compensatory package that was initially introduced in October 2020 in order to support sea fishing vessels in respect of their fixed costs. The regulations will enable two additional vessels to claim compensation in addition to the 49 vessels that have already made successful applications.

The Committee is aware of the significant challenges that have been placed on the local sea fishing industry due to COVID-19, which led to a sharp and dramatic fall in the demand for fish and shellfish products, a huge drop in market prices and economic challenges for fishing communities. The significant financial support that has been provided to the sector by local and national Governments throughout the last 18 months has been welcome, and the regulations will go some way to extending that support. However, the Committee is conscious that the industry still faces stark challenges in price recovery given the phased easement of restrictions in the hospitality and tourism sector and different levels of lockdown across Europe. Therefore, financial support will be required in the short and medium term to stabilise the sector and ensure a viable recovery from the impact of the pandemic.

The Committee was content with the merits of the policy at SL1 stage and raised no issues. At its meeting on 24 June, the Committee considered the advice of the Examiner of Statutory Rules, who drew no specific attention to issues of concern. Therefore, the Committee is content with the proposals from the Department and recommends that the Assembly confirm the statutory rule.