Two Dunmore East-registered vessels have qualified for the first phase of a State-run decommissioning scheme to remove older and larger whitefish vessels from the waters, under a plan to make the struggling fishing sector more viable.

Aside from the Dunmore East vessels, a further nine from Kilmore Quay have met the criteria for the Bord Iascaigh Mhara-administered scheme, out of 46 from across the country. The boats, which are all over 18 metres in length and with a combined capacity of 7,590 gross tonnes (an average size of 165 gross tonnes a vessel), will exit the whitefish fleet over the coming weeks.

According to the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, these boats represent 68pc of the overall removal target of 11,140 gross tonnes set for the schemes and are in addition to the 27 whitefish boats which were decommissioned in 2005-2006. The decommissioning is intended to boost the economics of those boats remaining in the fleet, from the redistribution of the whitefish and prawn catch previously taken by the vessels.