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Ireland to bale out struggling bivalve farmers

26 October 2020, at 1:01pm

Ireland’s mussel and oyster farmers have been promised compensation to make up for drastic declines in sales since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic.

A farmer checking oyster bags on trestles at low tide
Irish oyster farmers sales fell by 59 percent between February and June

Ireland’s Minister for Agriculture Food and the Marine, Charlie McConalogue announced the financial support scheme for rope mussel and oyster farmers under his department’s European Maritime and Fisheries Fund Programme 2014-20, co-funded by the Government of Ireland and the European Union.

Announcing the new support scheme on 22 October, Minister McConalogue said: “Rope mussel and oyster farmers were significantly impacted in the first half of 2020 by the market access and price difficulties caused by the Covid-19 Pandemic. While these issues eased as the first wave of the Pandemic passed, the impacts of lost sales and production left a lasting financial burden on these aquaculture enterprises. Rope mussel farmers suffered a 34 percent fall in sales between February and June, while oyster farmers suffered a sales drop of 59 percent. The continued viability of these SMEs is jeopardised by these unprecedented shocks to their businesses, with many struggling to cover their fixed costs and to fund the cost of purchasing seed to grow their next crops.”

“I am announcing today a special support scheme for these oyster and rope mussel producers that will provide a fixed, one-off payment of between €6,800 and €16,300 to each eligible oyster farming business and between €1,300 and €9,000 for rope mussel producers. The payments will vary according to three size classes based on records of previous production levels held by BIM. I anticipate that BIM will be inviting applications in early November with a view to paying successful applicants in 2020”.

Further details of the scheme will be available from BIM shortly.