PECH Committee hears that EU should use Breit as opportunity to rethink relative stability policy in CFP
Ciarán O’Driscoll from the European Movement Ireland told Wednesday’s session of the European Parliament’s Committee on Fisheries that the EU should use the opportunity of Brexit to rethink their policy of ‘relative stability’.
The Castletownbere native whose father was involved in the fishing industry there was speaking at the PECH Committee’s debate on the subject of ‘Future of EU-UK Fisheries Relations after Brexit’.
As the Policy and Research Officer for the European Movement Ireland, Mr O’Driscoll gave the perspective of the future relations from an Irish point of view he said:
“As a son of a fisherman from Castletownbere in West Cork here Evans I grew up knowing of the important role that fishing can play in coastal communities. As very often, it is the main economic pillar holding up that community.
“In my opening remarks this morning, I would like to make two points.
“The first will be on the main implications of the EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement for the Irish fishing industry, while the second will look at the broader role of the UK as a new actor in the Northeast Atlantic.
“The single and most severe outcome of agreement is that the Irish fishing industry is expected to see a loss of around €42 million by 2026.
“As a result of losing 15% in its share of fishing quotas through the transfer process as outlined in Graph 1 there in the slides.
“The data here is sourced from the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine in January 2021 reports.
“The biggest decline share of the decline will take place in pelagic stocks, a key stock for Ireland, accounting for around 67% in the total loss in this transfer process. Mackerel in West of Scotland represents the majority of the losses in pelagic stocks, some 27.5 million tonnes out of the total pelagic loss of 28.5 million.
“Many in the Irish fishing industry also feel that the transfer of quotas as a result of the agreement has fallen disproportionately harder on Ireland, as represented in table two in the slides.
“Some in the industry have drawn comparisons between the recent agreement with the UK and Ireland’s succession into what is now the EU in 1973, as both have resulted in a bad deal for the Irish industry.
“Some now see Brexit as an opportunity for relative stability to be re-examined at EU level and does so to the benefit of Ireland.
“This has been a longstanding grievance in the Irish fishing industry. One shared with many of their UK counterparts that are in share of quotas is unfairly lower for the stocks that exist in Irish waters.
“While I think it’s very unlikely that the EU will reopen the issue of relative stability. Personally, I would like to wish to see a refocusing and prioritising of the role of small-scale fisheries within the Common Fisheries Policy.
“There are low environmental impacts, but high socio-economic impact is vital to the continuation. Of course, of communities in particular are European islands such as Bere Island and Cape Clear Island here in West Cork.
“My second point this morning. The departure of the UK from the EU throws up many concerns are on what role will the UK play in terms of building relationships within the Northeast Atlantic.
“Will it be a disruptor or a partner?
“I can’t help but be sceptical about the future of fisheries operation in the Northeast Atlantic post-Brexit.
“The UK now represents another actor within this arena, and another piece for many more puzzles that need to be solved around securing annual fishery agreements.
“We have seen how quickly fisheries climbed the political ladder and things get heated or go wrong, from clashes in the Bay of Seine – French and English vessels – to the boarding at Rockall by Scottish authorities of the Irish vessel, Northern Celt, fishing disputes can become front and centre in the public’s eye.
“It does highlight how fisheries, although it may have small economic shoes, it certainly does have big political boots at the same time, while nationalistic temperatures also often rise during such disputes, it often drowns out, but is at the core of such disputes that are fishers who just want to be able to earn their livelihoods and provide for their families and communities.
“As someone who was lost, family and neighbours at sea while fishing, I do worry for the day that a loved one does not return home from sea due to a dispute at sea that was created from a political disagreement on land.
“To conclude, a Brexit induced unpredictability in the Northeast Atlantic could bring about significant challenges for fisheries management for Ireland and the EU for many years to come.”