The fisheries proposal made to the UK last Friday by the EU Chief Michel Barnier came as a shock to everyone in the Irish Fishing Industry. Spanish boat in Killybegs harbour

The fisheries proposal made to the UK last Friday by the EU Chief Michel Barnier came as a shock to everyone in the Irish Fishing Industry

EU Chief Negotiator Michel Barnier’s fisheries proposal to the UK came as a total shock to the Irish fishing industry who had not been informed of the move.

The deal would have seen the EU fishing fleet handing back to the UK between 15 % to 18% of the value of fish stocks caught by EU boats in UK waters.

Talks between the EU and UK continue this week and both sides hope to reach an agreement by Friday. There has been great uncertainty for the Irish fishing industry since the leave vote in the UK in 2016 but these last few days has thrown a deeper unpredictability for the future of both the fishing fleet and for the future of fish stocks.

Speaking on RTÉ Radio 1’s This Week on Sunday, Patrick Murphy, CEO of the Irish South and West Fish Producers Organisation, discussed the impact of the proposed Brexit deal and described the impact such a proposal would have on the Irish fishing industry and the marine environment.

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Talking to Carole Coleman the IS&WFPO Chief said “This is the worst year in a long, long time that our industry which had to cope with bad weather or COVID-19, loss and collapse of markets, and now we’re being told at 18% of the fish that UK are currently catching, which is our own, €120 million worth of fish is going to be gifted to them (the UK).

“We said that we’d put all our differences aside so that our fishermen in Europe could keep the relative stability going and we’d have the same access and the same quota shares, because if you change any of this, you’re going to destroy or impact on the sustainability of the stocks that are around our coastlines. And, if that happens, we killed the golden goose for everybody.”

Mr Murphy expressed his concerns on the impacts that such a deal would have on fish stocks off the Irish coast. He explained to the presenter:

“ICES gives advice into different stocks all around the Northwest waters. So, just because one country takes them from a particular area, then that fish has to be deducted from elsewhere. And as you know, and anybody would see the maps of Northwest waters, the richest fishing grounds in Europe are here just to give an example of that is the monk fishermen. French fishermen are allowed to catch up to eight times our quota in monk, in our waters. So that 18% would come from our waters. They can’t trade their own fish. It would have to come from Irish waters. That’s our theme here.”

Mr Murphy called on the Minister for the Marine, Charlie McConalogue to intervene and to call for more research into the impacts on the future of Irish fish stocks. On the announcement of Mr Barnier’s proposal on Friday, Mr Murphy continued:

“This is out of the blue. We didn’t know anything about this. This was announced by Michel Barnier without any notification to us in the industry. And it was under same day that we were actually discussing the future access and the future amount of fish that we could catch in a different species with our Minister, Charlie McConalogue on that very day.

“So, what we’re looking for here is that we don’t want to see, if the gates are closed and the UK kick 400 vessels that fish inside in UK waters currently, and they have to leave. Now, they’ve come to our waters and UK waters because their own waters are on their own countries can’t sustain them. So they’ll have to go somewhere else. If they come into our waters off the southwest coast to biologically sensitive areas where the fish come to spawn and breed, which plentifies the fish in all other parts of the Northwest waters, we’re going to destroy the goose that laid the golden egg.

“What we asked simply Carole is for our minister to do a scientific study of the potential harmful effects of all these boats pouring into our fishing grounds and what damage that would do to the seabed and the stocks that are there. And we’re at the loss, after asking two Taoiseachs, Ministers for a Foreign Affairs and two Ministers for the Marine, why this hasn’t been done.

“We need to find this stat if this is a potential hazard and act on that, this is more than about Barnier giving 18% of fish to the UK, which they want 80%, by the way.

They also discussed the situation of UK boats coming back into Irish water to which Mr Murphy said, “That would be the double whammy.

“If the UK boats want to come back fishing into Irish waters, and again, coming back to the example I gave about monkfish. If the French also wants to go back into UK waters, if UK vessels want to catch a hundred ton of monk(fish). In Irish waters, we won’t get reciprocal access and that reciprocal amount from the UK, if relative stability, the rules are maintained, which I feel are crazy, then the French would actually get access from the fish that they’re allowed to kitchen our waters.

“They’re going to take paper fish and swap it for real fish inside UK waters. And I don’t think that should be allowed, and at the detriment of our fishing communities, around the coast of Ireland, it’s wrong.”

Brian J McMullin Solicitors
MMG Welding Killybegs

Barnier’s 18% catch proposal to UK a shock to Irish Fishing Industry

by editor time to read: 8 min