northern ireland fishing boats

Northern Ireland registered fishing boats are banned from landing catches into traditionall Irish harbours like Greencastle due to the Brexit

New regulations under Brexit means fishing vessels registered in Northern Ireland will no longer be allowed to land into Irish harbours they have traditionally used in the past.

Two of those harbours that Northern Irish boats will no longer be able to use is Greencastle and Moville in Co Donegal.

Instead, Northern Ireland registered fishing boats are being forced to land into a designated port in Ireland; Killybegs in Co Donegal or Castletownbere in Co Cork, in line with illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing regulations under the North East Atlantic Fisheries Commission (NEAFC).

The piers at Greencastle and Moville have been served with a notice from the Sea-Fisheries Protection Authority (SFPA) informing vessels from Northern Ireland that they are no longer allowed to land their catch.

The new regulations have resulted a calamitous situation in Greencastle and Moville, where the regulations have created a hard border at the pier in both towns, even though under the EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement, there is no hard border between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland because Northern Ireland is remaining in the EU free trade zone.

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Under Brexit rules, UK licensed fishing vessels may no longer access services in any other ports in the Republic, except for the designated ports. Northern Ireland registered fishing boats landing their catch in Irish fishing ports are now under the same regulations as third country fishing vessels. Therefore, creating a hard border at the fishing port.

northern ireland fishing boats

Moville Pier, Co Donegal

In order to land their catch into an Irish fishing port, Northern Irish boats have to comply to the same regulations as UK fishing vessels:

As of 01 January 2021, before a UK registered fishing vessel can land its catch in either of these ports, the vessel must be registered with NEAFC’s Port Control System.

Fresh fish can be landed into any NEAFC designated port. If you are the Captain or Skipper of a factory or freezer vessel that is an approved food establishment, you will need to land into a Border Control Post (BCP) that can handle your type of product – check your trade route in advance and find out who the relevant EU ‘competent authority’ is.

Before landing, a prior notification must be submitted to the EU Competent Authority up to 4 hours ahead for fresh fish and up to 72 hours ahead for frozen fish. And a pre-landing declaration must be submitted at least 4 hours ahead.

A UK catch certificate must be completed for the catch you intend to land. Local Authority approved freezer, reefer or factory vessels that land frozen or processed fish directly into the EU will require a Captain’s Certificate signed by the Captain who is authorised by APHA (Animal and Plant Health Agency) or DAERA (Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs). This does not apply to fresh fish.

New rules also apply to vessels from Great Britain landing catch in Northern Ireland which require catch certificates and other documentation to be supplied to authorities there.

The new regulations have led to frustrations amongst the fishing communities in the north of Ireland with some of them saying they will not comply with the SFPA order.

Brian J McMullin Solicitors
MMG Welding Killybegs