Recent Irish success in the EU fisheries negotiations will help to strengthen the Irish fishing industry in the context of Brexit, a Fine Gael TD has said.
Galway West South Mayo TD Hildegarde Naughton questioned the Minister for Agriculture; Food and the Marine recently in the Dáil in relation to the last EU Fisheries Council in December.
“Minister Naughton confirmed to me in the Dáil that his negotiations at the EU Fisheries Council in December secured a total package of fish quotas worth €266 million for the Irish fisheries industry for 2018.
“This package includes an 8% increase in the value of whitefish quotas leading to a new total of €152 million for the quota. Ireland’s quota for prawns also increased by 15% in 2018, which is the biggest single increase in over a decade and shows the very healthy state of this stock. These quota increases are great news considering how depleting these two stocks were just five years ago.
“The rebuilding of many other stocks was also demonstrated by a 34% increase in our whitefish quotas off the North-West coast and a 64% increase in the Irish Sea.
“Minister Creed also secured an agreement for a year round ‘catch and release’ fishery of recreational sea bass. This was a real win given that the European Commission had originally sought a complete ban on angling for 6 months of 2018, which would have been very detrimental to Irish tourism.
“This fisheries package is good news for fishermen in my own constituency of Galway Mayo but also in coastal communities right around the country.
“The Government is working extremely hard to protect and strengthen the Irish fisheries industry in the context of Brexit. Minister Creed is very clear that fisheries remains a high priority for Ireland in the Brexit negotiations. He is meeting regularly with colleagues across the EU, especially those from the group of 8 member states whose fisheries are most impacted by the UK’s withdrawal from the EU, and also with the Barnier Taskforce.
“The Government is working to ensure that our existing fishing rights and entitlements are fully protected into the future. We are ensuring that the implications of Brexit for the fisheries sector are fully taken account of in the establishment of the framework for a future EU-UK relationship. The Minister confirmed to me that the European Commission is in agreement with this viewpoint. They also accept the key point that fisheries is a zero sum game and that any gain for the UK would mean a loss for Ireland and the rest of the EU.
“Ireland’s key asks in this regard will be maintenance of current access to fishing grounds in the UK zone in the Irish Sea, Celtic Sea and north of Donegal and protection of Ireland’s existing quota shares.
“In the meantime our successful negotiations at the EU Fisheries Coouncil are another important step towards our objective of having all stocks fished at maximum sustainable yield levels by 2020.This will help to protect and strengthen Irish fishing communities in the context of Brexit.”