SIR – Following four and a half years of intensive negotiation, Britain and the EU eventually reached an agreement on Christmas Eve. The outcome as far as it concerns the Irish fishing industry is déjà vu – a consolidation of the sell-out of 1973, where our lucrative fish stocks were surrendered in return for perceived benefits to agriculture.
Some justification may be offered for the decision taken back then, when fish was considered to be a penitential food eaten only on Fridays, in contrast to the valuable gourmet status, which it holds today. Also, the Irish fishing fleet at that time, consisted mostly of old and relatively small boats, operating mainly within three miles of the coast.
In the interim trawlers have been enlarged and fitted with modern equipment, enabling them to spend a number of days at sea. However, punitive EU imposed quotas have hampered Irish boats from reaping the benefits of fish stocks in its territorial waters.
In examining the verdict of the EU-Brexit outcome, it is evident that the EU concedes, in fact asserts that a state is entitled to the sovereignty of its territorial waters. It is incumbent on the Irish Government to ensure that the EU honours this principle, universally.
Fishing rights are an asset no different from oil and gas resources that are the chattels of the adjacent state. An acceptable compromise would be the establishment of a 50-mile exclusion zone (a number of states implement a 200 nautical miles limit), and where it intersects with the similar exclusion zone of another state, e.g. Britain, an acceptable agreement could easily be negotiated.
The result would mean that Irish fishermen would be in a position to realise their potential, and recoup the losses encountered in being excluded from British waters, which they currently benefit from. It would also ensure that other European fleets, whose right to fish in British waters is being curtailed, will not now resort to further plundering of the ever-declining fish stocks, which large foreign super trawlers have decimated, in the recent past.