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Fishing Still A Difficulty In Brexit Talks

There is still no resolution in sight for the fisheries issues involved in the Brexit negotiations with the UK demanding that the EU concede 80 per cent of the fish quota European Union boats currently catch in waters that will come under its exclusive economic zone after January 1. The proposal has been estimated as reducing the value of EU boat’s catches from €650 million down to €130 million Coastal communities in several Member States would be very badly affected.

“Fish remains the very major obstacle,” the Marine Times was told on Friday. There are also issues about governance of the relationship between the UK and the EU after its final exit on December 31and about State aid to UK companies which would be competing with more tightly-regulated EU Member State companies if Britain is given an unregulated trade deal. But fishing has been made a primary matter and particularly by the French government which has been concerned, apparently, that EU lead negotiator Michael Barnier may have been prepared to make concessions to the British to reach a deal, which would not be acceptable in France.

“No practical movement… the same repetitive aspects have been going on for weeks,” the MT was told.

“Significant divergences persist,” Michel Barnier was quoted as saying on Friday.

UK lead negotiator, David Frost, said that a deal was possible only if the EU agreed that Britain would control its own State-aids to business and industry system and its fishing waters.

“The Brits want all that and a trade deal on their own demands with the EU. They won’t get it,” was the response of EU and Irish government sources.

British media are reporting that some EU States are breaking ranks on fishing issue, claiming Germany and France particularly in opposition to each other. Germany wanting to settle while France pressing for 10 year fishery Quota agreement which UK rejects. Germany wants to settle because of major concerns there for car industry. But French determined to get fishing deal sorted out. Spain backing French. Ireland not being mentioned.

Sustainability Impact Assessment on Fishing Opportunities

The Minister for the Marine, Charlie McConalogue, presented the Sea Fisheries Sustainability Impact Assessment to the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Agriculture and the Marine this week. The Sustainability Impact Assessment (SIA) is carried out each year to examine the implications for Ireland of the European Commission’s proposal for the fixing of Total Allowable Catches (TACs) for the coming year. Its conclusions are drawn from a consultation process with stakeholders, a public consultation and expert contributions from the Marine Institute and BIM. The Minister discussed the analysis and conclusions with the Committee. The SIA is available at www.gov.ie/en/publication/eb965-2021-sustainability-impact-assessment-of-eu-fishing-opportunities-proposal/ .

Minister McConalogue said the SIA is “an essential part of the preparation for the fisheries negotiations setting quotas for 2021. I will ensure that the views and comments of the members of the Committee are taken into account to inform Ireland’s position in these negotiations.”

This year, for the first time, the European Commission will need to negotiate with the UK as a Coastal State on TAC-setting for shared stocks. This means that, for most of the stocks of interest to Ireland, the Commission has not yet made a TAC proposal. Scientific advice from ICES (the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea) was used as the basis for this year’s SIA.

The Minister today also received the 2020 Marine Institute Stock Book which is one of the principal annual publications of the MI, provides scientific advice on commercially exploited fish stocks of interest to Ireland.

The Stock Book is available electronically on the Marine Institute’s website (www.marine.ie) and as an interactive app.