24th April

Brexit Free Trade Agreement must include fisheries

New draft guidelines (March 7) published by the European Council have been welcomed by the Killybegs Fishermen’s Organisation. Key concerns separating fisheries as well as retaining existing reciprocal access to fishing waters and resources have been fully recognised in the draft text.

KFO Brexit

French Ambassador, Stéphane Crouzat visits Killybegs Fishermen’s Organisation CEO, Seán O’Donoghue

The draft roadmap sets out the ‘likely course of negotiations’ on the future relationship between the EU and the UK, and includes specific reference to fisheries in Article 7 which states, inter alia:

‘Trade in goods, with the aim of covering all sectors, which should be subject to zero tariffs and no quantitative restrictions with appropriate accompanying rules of origin. In this context, existing reciprocal access to fishing waters and resources should be maintained.’

This news follows transitional guidelines issued by the Council on January 29 that state:

‘Specific consultations should also be foreseen with regard to the fixing of fishing opportunities (total allowable catches) during the transition period, in full respect of the Union acquis.’

Chief executive, Seán O’Donoghue said the KFO had “lobbied intensely” along with European Fisheries Alliance (EUFA) colleagues to have these “key commitments” included in both the transitional arrangements and phase two trade negotiations.

“I would like to acknowledge the role played by Minister Creed and his officials in achieving this welcome result. I would simultaneously like to put on record it is now imperative that the Minister and his team fight tooth and nail to ensure the commitments set out in the draft text are retained in the final document to be agreed at Council by the end of this month.”

Following talks in Killybegs with the French Ambassador, Stéphane Crouzat in Killybegs, Mr O’Donoghue added that the Ambassador had developed “a deep appreciation” for the position of Ireland’s fishing industry:

“The French industry too would be decimated were the UK to restrict access to its waters and increase its percentage share of the TACs.”

EU chief negotiator, Michel Barnier, has also reiterated his viewpoint that fisheries cannot be addressed in isolation from the wider trade agreement which has been a key concern of the KFO and the EUFA.

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