IFSA Icelandic access deal

The IFSA has raised concerns over the legality of an Icelandic access deal to Irish waters negotiated by the European Commission

Has the European Commission acted ultra vires in negotiating with Iceland to access Irish waters for blue whiting?

The Irish Fishing and Seafood Alliance (IFSA) has raised concerns over a potential deal between the European Commission, and Iceland regarding access to Irish waters for blue whiting.

The IFSA Chair, Cormac Burke, questions the transparency and legality of the negotiations, expressing suspicion over Minister Charlie McConalogue’s involvement and the lack of industry representation.

The IFSA points out that industry representatives were given short notice about the talks, and a Zoom meeting meant to discuss the early stages of the proposal revealed that negotiations were already at an advanced stage. The Alliance is particularly concerned about the perceived lack of benefits for the Irish pelagic fleet, questioning whose advice McConalogue is following and who stands to gain from the proposal, besides Iceland.

This isn’t the first time Minister McConalogue has pursued such negotiations during holidays, raising eyebrows within the fishing industry. Burke writes:

“It is also noticeable that this is the second time that McConalogue has pulled such a stunt at a time when the Dail is on holidays and when he could not be hauled in front of other political parties and other TDs to explain himself – – and its more than a coincidence that he previously proceeded with a deal with Norway, again only informing the majority of industry representatives at the last minute, on St Patrick’s Day when the Dail was shut for holidays.”

The IFSA also questions the legal authority of the European Commission and McConalogue to engage in talks without ratification by the Council of Ministers. The IFSA argues that, under EU Treaties, the Commission and McConalogue lack the legal right to negotiate with non-EU Member States without explicit instruction from the Council.

The IFSA demands to see formal written authorisation from the EU Council of Ministers, dated before 19 December, permitting the Commission and McConalogue to negotiate with Iceland.

“If the EU Council of Ministers (which includes Minister McConalogue) agreed to permit the EU Commission enter into talks with Iceland then why wasn’t this made public knowledge and why wasn’t the Irish fishing industry informed at the time?”, asks Burke.

If no such permission was given, the Alliance calls for an immediate halt to the plans and asks what action will be taken against the EU Fisheries Commission and Minister McConalogue for acting illegally.

Commenting on the situation, the IFSA suggests that the subtext of the blue whiting deal may involve mackerel, accusing Norway, Iceland, and the Faroes of making an illegal grab for mackerel for years. The IFSA alleges that the EU appears willing to legitimise this behaviour, leaving Ireland with nothing in return. The alliance questions McConalogue’s motivations and implies external influence within the highest levels of the Irish fishing industry.

As this controversy unfolds, the IFSA urges transparency, adherence to legal procedures, and a fair deal that benefits the Irish fishing industry. The alliance vows to continue monitoring developments and advocating for the interests of Irish fishermen.

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