19th July

Irish and EU 27 positions maintained in Brexit fisheries negotiations

The Killybeg Fishermen's Organisation has 'welcomed in principle' the Brexit transitional period that maintains relative stability and ensures continued stock sustainability and economic competitiveness for the EU and UK fishing industries.  

EUFA is a coalition of European fishing fleets directly impacted by Brexit. Members include national organisations from Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Ireland, The Netherlands, Poland, Spain, and Sweden, comprising 18,000 fishermen and 3,500 vessels with an annual turnover of €21m.

Killybegs

KFO chief executive Sean O'Donoghue says the announcement is an important step forward as it gives certainty and negotiation time until the end of 2020.

"We have always maintained that it is vital to maintain existing access to waters and resources and to conduct negotiations in the context of wider trade relations."

He added that the industry would support the European Commission and the EU 27 during the negotiations on a future framework. 

"Maintaining reciprocal access to waters and resources should be at the heart of the post-Brexit relationship in fisheries given the historic ties and in extricable links between our countries and industries.

"It is imperative that Minister Creed builds on progress to date by fighting tooth and nail to ensure the commitments set out in the the draft text are retained in the final document to be agreed at Council by the end of the month. 

"We cannot afford to concede a single inch as these extremely important negotiations reach a finale."

The KFO recognises the importance of involving the UK 'in an meaningful way' in the annual discussions on total allowable catch (TAC) and fishing opportunities during the transaction. 

It acknowledges the work of EUFA, the European Commission Task Force 50 and the Irish government on the draft Withdrawal Agreement and transitional period achieved. 

Inevitable displacement

Patrick Murphy, CEO of the Irish South & West Fish Producers CLG however believes displacement of EU vessels into Irish waters is 'inevitable' following Brexit, and asks if that should not be Ireland's "number one" concern.

Castletownbere2 (1)

"It is time we, the Irish fishing organisations, fought for Irish fishermen and we should make no apologies for doing so."

The Department of Agriculture Food and the Marine however told Inshore Ireland that the status quo on TAC and quota would remain the same. (see full response below)

Patrick Murphy referred to comments made by Joey Murrin - a former chief executive of the Killybegs Fishermen's Organsation - who he described as 'one of the most distinguished and respected figures' in the story of the modern Irish fishing industry. 

"We need to listen and take notice when he tells us that we are fraternising with the enemy and setting up unholy alliances with other fishermen's organisations across Europe. 

"Mr Murrin also tells us that British Prime Minister Theresa May has said the UK has 'no problem sorting out their fishing industry'. Can we not do the same, or is sorting out the  fishing industry that simple?

"If we are willing to assert control over our own waters - yes, it is that simple  but if we insist on allowing hundreds of vessels displaced from UK waters by Brexit to come and fish in our waters, the little stock we have left will finally be destroyed."

Mr Murphy also referred to the current repeal EC Regulation 1342 of 2008  (cod recovery programme in the Irish Sea and elsewhere) which he said would allow displaced vessels from UK waters into Irish waters. 

"This will push Irish boats off our waters and out of business."

DAFM responds

 No vessels will be displaced from UK waters as a result of the change expected possibly by May, the department confirmed to Inshore Ireland.

'While the cod effort regime is being removed in Area 6a and 7a (North West & Irish Sea), the TAC and quota regime remains in place.

'Ireland and the UK hold the bulk of quotas in the Irish Sea; other MSs would not have available quota to transfer effort from e.g. the North Sea or the Channel to the Irish Sea.'

Area 7

In Area 7a, the main commercial whitefish stocks (cod, haddock, whiting, sole and plaice) are mostly divided between Ireland and the UK with France and Belgium holding very small shares. 

Seventy per cent of the nephrops (prawn) quota in Area 7 (Irish Sea, Celtic Sea, southwest and west coasts) is held by Ireland and the UK; the herring quota in Area 7a is only available to the UK (majority share) and Ireland.

 Area 6a

The majority of whitefish quota in northwest waters is held by the UK with Ireland holding a small share, followed by France. There is no commercial fishery for cod. For saithe, monkfish and megrim, France and the UK hold the largest shares with smaller shares for Ireland and Spain. The UK holds the vast majority of the nephrops quota.

Herring stocks in the southern and northern stocks are depleted and a TAC is set to enable fishery dependent data. Ireland holds most of the southern stock quopta while the UK holds most of the  northern stock quota with small shares for Ireland, Netherlands, Germany and France. 

Post Brexit, Irish and EU 27 posiitions 'have been clearly set down' in the fisheries negotiating guidelines. 

'These state clearly that in the overall context of the Free Trade Agreement, reciprocal access to fishing waters and resources should be maintained. Repeal of Regulation 1342 of 2008 is of little relevance to the Brexit negotiations on fisheries. 

'The priority for all stakeholders will be to work together to supporft the Irish and EU 27 Member States position in delivering on the status quo in terms of access to fishing waters and resources.'

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