Eimear McGuinness pictured in Killybegs where much of the fleet has been tied up amid ongoing uncertainty over Brexit
The ongoing uncertainty over Brexit is having a severe impact on the fishing industry in Killybegs where much of the fishing fleet has been tied up in the port indefinitely and complete fishing quotas already caught ahead of the March 29 Brexit deadline.
Fish stocks have been placed in cold storage in Killybegs and amid fears of a UK crash-out, the knock-on effect for those working in the marine sector in this county is a major concern.
The situation has been highlighted by local election candidate Eimear McGuinness who said those who work in the fishing sector in South West Donegal had little choice to adopt a cautionary approach in the absence of any certainty in the negotiations over Brexit.
“Many people have been paying little regard to Brexit, treating it as something they see non-stop on Sky News,” she said.
“The reality is much different. Brexit is very local to Donegal.
“Each year approximately 66% or more of our mackerel quota is being caught in UK or Scottish waters and it was prudent that if the UK were to leave the EU by the March deadline the remaining part of our quota uncaught could have ended up in jeopardy and potentially we may not have been able to catch it. This would have resulted in a complete loss to the fishing sector.
“In the event of a crash out, it is most probable that the Irish fleet would not have been permitted to fish in these waters.”
Fish stocks in cold storage in Killybegs
A spokesperson for one of the largest producers in the port said: “The quota is worth up to €50m to Killybegs. It has now been caught and is in cold storage throughout Ireland, England and even France.
“As much as it has been denied, stockpiling is taking place in many sectors including the pharma industry and food stuffs and cold storage space is at a premium. We are constantly trying to source storage space on a daily basis. That demand just continues to grow.”
Ms McGuiness said that since 2017 our Total Allowable Catch (TAC) for mackerel has been cut by 30,935 tonnes. Over the past number of years Ireland's mackerel quota has been cut by over €45m in value when the entire sum of each year's quota cut is accumulated.
“But, this year we have the added effect of all the catch been caught within the first number of weeks of the year,” she said.
“This has added pressures on the sector for storage and by extension, it has consequences on the service sector which depend on the fishing sector.”