Seán O’Donoghue said while the reprieve is only temporary in nature, it is an important step to avoid catastrophe on the fishing grounds on March 30th next. Maintaining the status quo for 2019 in terms of access and quota share is to be welcomed. Nonetheless, he said he remains optimistic that a deal can be reached but it’s imperative that mitigation measures must be developed in the background lest an agreement not transpire as hoped. The sector sustains 14,500 jobs and is worth €1.15 billion to the Irish economy.
“In the midst of all the chaos and uncertainty, we have been working diligently to keep fisheries high on the agenda of the negotiators which has been a seismic job of work. I must acknowledge the key role played by the Irish Government, particularly the Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, Tánaiste Simon Coveney and Minister Michael Creed in tandem with EU Chief Negotiator, Michel Barnier and their respective officials in listening and acting on the concerns of fishing industry.
“While we have made good progress to safeguard our members’ livelihoods in a post-Brexit trade deal scenario, it is crucial that we do not take our eye off the ball and continue to press Britain to maintain the current levels of reciprocal access to waters and markets, as well as sound science-based fisheries management.
“Ireland’s two biggest fisheries, mackerel (60%) and nephrops (40%) (or prawns) are hugely dependent on access to UK waters with the overall dependency for all stocks of over 30%. Maintaining reciprocal access to waters and resources need to be at the heart of the post-Brexit relationship in fisheries given the historic ties and inextricable links between our countries and industries.
Whereas fish are mobile and know no borders nor bear any nationality, our trawlers don’t have this luxury and must obey boundaries and exclusion zones. Our industry is standing on the edge of a precipice and everything that we have strived for and developed for generations is staring into the abyss albeit we have a temporary reprieve until the end of 2019. We must move might and main to avoid a ‘no-deal’ Brexit and the ramifications which this would have for our sector,” concluded Mr O’Donoghue.