Like its European Fisheries Alliance (EUFA) colleagues, the Killybegs Fishermen’s Organisation has, at all times, recognised the importance of Brexit negotiations for the future of Irish fisheries.
KFO Chief Executive, Seán O’Donoghue said:
“We reacted very swiftly in forming alliances with our European counterparts to establish the European Fisheries Alliance in September 2016. Each member impressed upon its Head of Government how the level of uncertainty and the scale of the challenge facing their fishermen merited special attention, hence our insistence that trade and fisheries be inextricably linked at all times in the negotiations. Happily, we are now at a stage whereby we can see that our very legitimate concerns are being listened to but we cannot afford to concede any ground whatsoever as these extremely important negotiations now move onto phase two.
“I’m particularly pleased that the guidelines adopted today by the EU 27 make specific reference to fisheries by stating in paragraph 8.i: ‘In the overall context of the FTA, existing reciprocal access to fishing waters and resources should be maintained.’ This is exactly what we had requested in terms of linkage with wider trade negotiations and the maintenance of reciprocal access to fishing waters and resources. It comes only a few days after the welcome agreement in principle on a transition period up to the end of 2020 announced by EU Chief Negotiator, Michel Barnier and the UK Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union, David Davis MP confirming that all existing fisheries arrangements remain in place until that date”.
He concluded: “We now stand ready to support the European Commission and the EU27 during the next phase of negotiations on the future framework. Maintaining reciprocal access to waters and resources as agreed in the guidelines today should be at the heart of the post-Brexit relationship in fisheries given the historic ties and inextricable links between our countries and industries. I would like to acknowledge the role played by the Irish Government as well as our Minister Michael Creed and his officials in reaching this particular agreement.”
The KFO has always maintained that the €1.15billion Irish fishing industry which sustains more than 14,500 jobs, must be a top priority for our Government. The formal adoption of the guidelines today is seen as another key step as the Brexit process gathers momentum. The guidelines give Michel Barnier, the mandate to talk directly to the UK about the future relationship with a view to reaching a broad political agreement by October to allow the EU and UK parliaments time to consider it.
Note to editor:
The European Fisheries Alliance is a coalition of European fishing fleets directly impacted by Brexit. Members include national organizations from Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Ireland, The Netherlands, Poland, Spain and Sweden. The alliance accounts for over 18,000 fishermen and 3,500 vessels with an annual turnover €20.7 billion.
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