Fishing ports like Killybegs could be impacted in a major way post Brexit deal warns Peter Casey
Donegal based businessman, Peter Casey, says it's vital for Donegal's economic future that Ireland's fishing industry be 'at the very forefront' of upcoming negotiations over Brexit.
And the former 'Dragon's Den' investor suggested if we are to get a good deal for the county our local elected representatives 'seriously need to up their game'.
Pointing to a recent KFO statement which revealed that in Ireland the First Sale value of fish is €500 million - which translates into €560 million worth of exports - Mr. Casey queried why our politicans are not already at the head of the queue to make their voices heard.
He commented: "If Border areas like Donegal are going to get badly hit by Brexit let's get moving now to mitigate these affects. Or will it be the usual case that our political representatives wait until the damage is done and then whinge how badly we got treated?
'Go in hard and go in now'
"My advice is go in hard and go in now because this is really important to us. Let's demand meetings with ministers and officials. Let's get a big publicity campaign going. Let's get the facts out to the people just how much fishing matters to a rural county like ours. Don't wait until it's all signed, sealed and delivered.
He pointed out that according to the official figures from 2015, Irish imports of seafood from the UK were worth €148m, while Irish seafood exports to the UK were worth €71m. We need, he felt, to not only up our game and see what opportunities there are to level this trade up more but also to protect what we already have.
Mr. Casey, who has a home in Greencastle, also pointed out that in many isolated maritime communities the only jobs available to locals were in the fishing industry. There were, he pointed out, no 'IDA factories' with hi-tech jobs rushing to locate in Inishowen or Glencolmcille or wherever so it was vital the 11,000 jobs associated with the fishing industry in this country be protected."
He added: "From speaking to fishermen in Greencastle recently I'm aware the representatives of the fishing industry, such as KFO, are using their considerable influence at every opportunity to drive home the message to government, development agencies, marketing bodies and the industry itself that not a day can be lost in the effort to ensure fishing is to the forefront in working out a deal to protect the long-term future of the sector."
The boss of the international recruitment firm, Buncrana based Claddagh Resources, said it was important that on each and every occasion 'the serious nature' of the major problem facing Ireland should be spelt out. The three key areas which will need to be addressed, he suggested, are access, quota share and trade. In the event of a 'hard Brexit' lack of access to UK waters would pose an enormous threat.
He concluded: "My understanding is that we currently share many of our quota stocks with UK, including the two biggest and most valuable Irish fisheries, mackerel and Nephrops. Post Brexit, that might be very different. However, the trade figures I have already quoted underline the importance of the linkages between trade, aceess and quota share. Due to its geographical position, and to a certain extent its political relationship with the UK - we are the only country with a land border with the UK - Ireland is, most definitely, in the frontline on this occasion."