Irish Scallop fishing vessel operators are seeking a derogation from the EU to allow them import catches directly from the UK
From the end of next March, Irish scallop boats will no longer be able to land their catch in the UK and transport it home to Ireland for processing without an export health certificate.
This is a major problem for the Irish vessels who depend on the scallop fisheries in the English Channel and the Minister for the Marine has been asked to seek a derogation from the EU which would allow the boats to continue as they are currently working.
Pre-Brexit, these fishing vessels were allowed to land their catches in the UK and transport it back to Ireland without any restrictions being in place, due to the open borders of the European Union. From the end of March, they will still be allowed land into the UK, but their catch will be examined and processed before they will receive an export health certificate. This is due to EU regulations which prohibit the import of live bivalve molluscs from third countries without it.
Presently, the boats can continue landing in UK ports and transporting the catch home due to the temporary agreement that remains in place until the end of March.
As of then, the other alternatives for the Irish scallop dredgers would be to land in ports in Belgium or France and transport the catch back to Ireland, but this would be hugely expensive and time issues could cause loss of quality to the product.
At last week’s Brexit fisheries Joint Committee, Wexford TD, Paul Kehoe (Fine Gael) took up question with the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Charlie McConalogue.
The Minister said that he acknowledged the challenges facing the scallop fishermen and he would examine the issue further.
John Lynch, Chairman of the Irish East & South Fish Producers Organisation told the Committee:
“From the 31st March, our scallop vessels will not be allowed to land in the UK, as they currently do when they’re fishing in the (English) Channel. It’s too far to come back to Ireland and the cost of landing in France would be double to get the product back to Ireland to be processed than what it would be from the UK.
“From the 31st of March, I believe that the scallop will need a health certificate for onward transportation and to my knowledge the scallop will have to go through a process in the UK to achieve this and testing would have to be done on the scallop before being exported from a third country back into the EU.
“So, what’s being asked for is some form of derogation or form of system where the truck will be sealed in the UK and will not be opened until it reaches the factory in Ireland.”