THE Irish fishing industry has been assured by the government of their commitment to retaining historic rights of access and fishing quotas as close to the present share as possible following Brexit.
At a meeting in government buildings last week, the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed TD, showed his support for the industry, a major local employer, by bringing all four Irish producer organisations and producer representatives to meet with the Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and the Tánaiste, Simon Coveney, who has special responsibility for Brexit.
The purpose of the meeting, attended by local industry leaders, was to exchange views on the potentially-damaging impacts of Brexit on the Irish catching and seafood sectors.
Three main concerns were expressed: access for vessels to UK fishing grounds post Brexit; quota share of the fish that iscurrently catch in UK waters and trade between Ireland and the UK for landed fish and processed fish products.
The Irish South and West Fish Producers Organisation, headed up by Patrick Murphy, highlighted the economic importance of fishing for Beara peninsula.
Mr Murphy said: ‘We in the IS&WFPO have always emphasised that we must remain conscious of a the potentially devastating effects Brexit could have not just on our fishing industry but also on the fragile carine ecosystem through the potential displacement of European fishing vessels from UK waters into Irish waters.
We welcome the added assurance that these rights has been included as a key priority in the EU 27 negotiating guidelines for the future relationship with the UK.’
Tánaiste Simon Coveney re-assured all present at the meeting that fisheries remains a high priority for the EU 27 in the negotiations with the UK.
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar stated that ‘Minister Creed and the Tánaiste have worked continuously and successfully to ensure that Michel Barnier and his team have a clear understanding of the issues relating to fisheries and the importance of the EU 27 protecting the existing arrangements on quota share and access to waters.
‘The role of the fishing industry representatives in Ireland and at EU level has been a critical factor in the success to date of having a united and strong EU position on fisheries and for that I would like to express my appreciation.’
Minister Michael Creed said that ‘the discussions provided an opportunity for the fishing industry to highlight the very real concerns they have regarding the potential effects of Brexit. The Taoiseach, Minister Coveney and I were able to assure them that fisheries are, and will remain, a high priority for this Government throughout the Brexit negotiations.’
Minster Creed concluded by saying that ‘the progress to date has been positive but we have a long way to go and will face serious challenges. I am encouraged, however, that the strength in unity and clarity of purpose that has been clear from the start will continue to serve us well in the hard negotiations to come.’
The representatives of the Irish fishing industry present included Sean O’Donoghue and Michael Cavanagh of the KFO, Patrick Murphy and John D O’Sullivan of the IS&WFPO, Hugo Boyle and John Lynch of the ISEFPO and Lorcán Ó Cinnéide and Karl McHugh of the IFPEA and Alex Crowley of the NIFF.
The Minister went on to say that ‘the industry were generally very happy with the progress to date in
protecting our key interests.
They welcomed the fact that we were able to ensure that there will be absolutely no change to our rights of access and quota share during the transition phase.