The Irish fishing industry may be decimated by Brexit, according to City & County Councillor Pat Fitzgerald (SF).
Cllr Fitzgerald is concerned that ports along the eastern and southern coasts may be particularly affected by the UK’s departure from the European Union given that (up to now), “Irish fishermen
working from these ports have up to now shared fishing grounds with their British counterparts”.
He added: “If permission to fish these ‘shared grounds’ is withdrawn, fisheries ports like Dunmore East, Kilmore Quay and Helvick could face ruin.”
Cllr Fitzgerald believes there hasn’t been a sufficient focus on the potential impacts of Brexit with respect to the fishing industry, although it’s an industry that potentially has more to lose than most from a Brexit”.
Referring to the common fishing grounds shared with the UK since 1922, he said that Irish and British fishermen have worked in peaceful co-existence for almost 95 years, with some of the “best fishing grounds in the Irish Sea within the British sea area, although they are fished mostly by Irish fishing vessels”.
Given that 30 per cent of the EU’s sea area is UK territory, should these waters be removed from the EU’s Fishing Quota arrangement, “it could mean that Irish fishing vessels will not be allowed fish in what will then be ‘British only waters'”. And will this mean the continental fishing fleet currently working in British waters would be transposed into Irish waters post-Brexit?
“In the past, when it came to tough EU negotiations when Irish officials had to argue Ireland’s case with the officials of continental fleets over fish quota, it was often the case that the British negotiators were our only allies,” he noted.
“It’s common knowledge that, up to now, the Irish fishing industry has not been a net benefactor of Ireland’s EU membership. Past Irish Governments have sometimes been accused of using the fishing industry as a pawn in previous EU negotiations.”
He concluded: “This makes it all the more important that the Government and it’s negotiating officials now step up to the plate and negotiate a better deal for the Irish Fishing Industry this time round.”