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No Brexit Agreement In Sight And No Alternative ‘Plan B’ By Government for Fishing

The four Fish Producer Organisations - Killybegs Fishermen’s Organisation; Irish South and East; Irish South and West and the Irish Fish Producers Organisation; the Irish Fish Processors and Exporters Association and the National Inshore Fisherman’s Forum met Minister for the Marine, Charlie McConalogue, through the “Webex Introductory Meeting” on Wednesday.

A Department of the Marine statement said afterwards that this was to “reconfirm the Government’s commitment to a Fisheries Agreement with the UK that protects Ireland’s fishing industry.”

The statement notes that “fishing industry representatives explained the very serious implications for the Irish fishing industry and our coastal communities of no fisheries agreement with the UK or any fisheries agreement which grants the UK’s demands for a greater share of fish stocks and restricted access to UK fishing grounds. The Minister listened carefully to the concerns expressed by industry representatives and reiterated Ireland’s position that he would continue to press for a fisheries agreement with the UK that protects the mandate and upholds both existing quota shares and existing reciprocal access to UK waters. He also re-acknowledged the importance of any fisheries agreement maintaining the link to any future trade agreement. The Minister especially welcomed the strong message from the fishing industry that unity and co-operation among the domestic fishing industry, the Member States and the European institutions is key at this critical juncture.”

While that is the official Department statement, it is understood by the MARINE TIMES that industry representatives made it clear to the Minister and the Department that they are deeply concerned that the government does not appear to have a ‘Plan B’ for the industry if there is no agreement made with the EU.

• At a meeting yesterday (Friday) with the Department of the Marine officials in the Brexit Focus Group of the North Western Waters Advisory Council it is understood that department officials were more prepared to accept the views of the fishing industry in relation to measures and concessions which would have to be sought for the protection and preservation of the Irish fishing industry’s future in the event of a ‘no deal’ Brexit. These would relate particularly to the rights of coastal states, Ireland in this case, having prirority rights to waters closest to its coast.