Wednesday 17 January 2018

Change to EU fishing deal ruled out before Brexit

Minister Michael Creed. Photo: Tony Gavin
Minister Michael Creed. Photo: Tony Gavin
Ralph Riegel

Ralph Riegel

Marine Minister Michael Creed has warned any attempt to renegotiate EU fishery policy during the Brexit talks would leave key European allies fearing we were trying to "pick their pockets".

The warning came as Irish fishing industry groups expressed fears the UK has now identified the fishing sector as a key pressure point in its Brexit negotiations with the EU.

The UK confirmed it is withdrawing from the 1964 London Fisheries Treaty, which allows foreign vessels access to waters between six and 12 nautical miles off the UK coast.

Mr Creed's officials have warned of the potentially "enormous threat" to the Irish Seafood industry posed by Brexit with more than a third of our current landings coming from inside the wider UK waters.

In a briefing paper, they warned of a "worst-case scenario" where the UK would seek to increase its current quotas to match the amount of fish currently taken by non-UK vessels in the UK zone.

"This would lead to serious over-exploitation of stocks at everyone's expense," the document says.

France, Spain and Denmark are among countries that face similar problems and "are working together to support a common platform in the negotiations", the briefing adds.

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These are countries Mr Creed wants to avoid alienating. He ruled out any attempt to renegotiate the European Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) before the Brexit talks are concluded.

"It is not appropriate or doesn't serve our common purpose to undermine the relationship we are building with these other member states by opening up a second front," he said.

"If you were one of the other member states and felt that simultaneously we were trying to pick their pocket - you would feel 'Jesus, are they really our friends? What are they doing behind our backs?'."

Mr Creed said Ireland was united with the other remaining EU member states in the need to negotiate the "best possible deal for the EU with the UK".

"When the next round of the CFP comes up, we put on the green jersey," he said.

Waterford fishing official Caitlin Ní Aodha has warned that the major concern within the Irish industry is what stance the UK will adopt to its 200-mile limit.

Irish South and East Fish Producers Organisation (ISEFPO) official Hugo Boyle said industry operators had formed a wide-ranging alliance in Europe to protect their interests.

Irish Independent

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