The Chief Executive of the Killybegs Fishermen’s Organisation (KFO) has expressed his concern ahead of the annual meeting of the Council of Fisheries Ministers that a sector already reeling from the chaos surrounding Brexit could now face further serious challenges and potential hardship.
The negotiations to set Total Allowable Catches (TACs) and quotas for 2019 got underway in Brussels on Monday and continue today (Tuesday).
The all-too-real possibility of a hard Brexit and the potential subsequent implications for fisheries after March 29, 2019 has cast a very dark shadow over these Fisheries Council quota negotiations.
KFO Chief Executive, Seán O’Donoghue commented: “While we had been quite encouraged by the first tranche of documents delivered by the negotiating teams and subsequently approved by the UK cabinet, we are now very concerned in light of developments in the UK that there is a real possibility of a hard Brexit after March 29. It is crucial that the Council, in reaching agreement for the 2019 fishing opportunities make a clear and unequivocal statement that these arrangements apply for the entire 2019 calendar year, irrespective of what happens with Brexit.
Concerned - KFO Chief Seán O’Donoghue
“Ireland’s two biggest fisheries, mackerel (60%) and nephrops / prawns (40%) are hugely dependent on access to UK waters with the overall dependency for all stocks of over 30%. We cannot countenance a situation whereby this access might stop on 30th March 2019 due to a hard Brexit. It is incumbent on Council to ensure that this will not happen and I am calling on Minister Creed to make this a priority during the negotiations.
"For us, the crucial issue remains that the linkage between access and resources to the wider trade issue be at the heart of a post Brexit arrangements for Irish fisheries sector thereby delivering an outcome which is acceptable to us.”
Of major concern to the KFO and the wider industry, is the landing obligation which will enter its final phase in 2019 when all species subject to TACs and quotas become subject to Article 15 of the Common Fisheries Policy. The prospect of “choke species” paralysing the Irish fishing industry is a very credible threat with knock-on effects for a vast array of sustainable fisheries, hitherto able to function normally, being caught in the slip-stream.