'If this full British withdrawal goes ahead, it could wipe out the Irish fishing industry'
The decision by the British government to withdraw the UK from the London Fisheries Convention could "wipe out" the Irish fishing industry.
According to the CEO of Irish South and West Fish Producers Organisation, Patrick Murphy, the long-term impact could be "catastrophic" for fishermen and women.
The move will mean that trawlers from the Republic of Ireland will no longer be allowed to fish within 12 nautical miles of the UK coastline.
"If this full withdrawal goes ahead, it could wipe out the Irish fishing industry," Mr Murphy told the Irish Independent.
"If you take, for instance, an average day last week where we would have taken in just over 200,000 tonnes of product, 100,000 of that would have been coming from English waters.
"We disagree with this withdrawal fundamentally, we will suffer the most."
Francis O'Donnell, CEO of Irish Fish Producers Organisation, said that Northern Irish fishermen would be the "big losers" in the withdrawal.
British ministers will trigger withdrawal from the London Fisheries Convention, signed in 1964 before the UK joined the EU, to start the two-year process to leave the agreement.
Mr O'Donnell said that the withdrawal was an "early indication of what to expect" in the aftermath of Brexit.
The convention sits alongside the EU Common Fisheries Policy (CFP), which allows all European countries access between 12 and 200 nautical miles of the UK and sets quotas for how much fish nations can catch.
If the UK was to leave the CFP, there would be a "major impact" on the Irish fishing industry, according to Mr O'Donnell.
"If you were to imagine a compass with a radius of 200 nautical miles around Ireland, it's a huge area and it will prove difficult for us as 40pc of our quota is in British waters. It's a prelude to what is coming," he said.
British ministers claimed the move would help take back control of fishing access to UK waters, as it will no longer be bound by existing access agreements, and enable the country to become fully responsible for fisheries management.