KFO extremely concerned at consequences of potential Hard Brexit
KFO Chief Executive, Seán O’Donoghue stated: “Ireland’s two biggest fisheries, mackerel (60%) and nephrops / prawns (40%) are massively dependent on access to UK waters with the overall percentage of stocks currently fished from UK waters by the Irish fleet standing at more than 30%. We cannot countenance a situation whereby this access might stop at 11pm on March 29th next due to a hard Brexit.
“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. Page 53 of the Government’s contingency plan states that ‘A critical issue for the fisheries sector in Ireland, and a number of other EU Member States, is the maintenance of reciprocal access to fisheries waters and resources.’
“While we had been quite encouraged by the first tranche of documents delivered by the negotiating teams and subsequently approved by the UK cabinet last month, we are now very concerned in light of more recent developments – or lack of developments - in the UK that there is a real possibility of a hard Brexit. We are talking about a €1.15 billion Irish seafood sector which sustains 14,500 jobs here,” concluded Mr O’Donoghue.
Only this week, the European Council of Fisheries Ministers, in reaching agreement for the 2019 fishing opportunities, made a clear and unequivocal statement that TAC and quota arrangements apply for the entire 2019 calendar year, irrespective of what happens with Brexit. However should Britain’s House of Commons fail to agree a deal, all this is rendered null and void.