Ireland’s fishing industry must be supported in “each and every way possible” to ensure continued inclusion of fisheries in trade negotiations, no reduction in quota share, retention of access to UK waters and maintenance of the status quo post-Brexit.

Brexit government meeting

 This was the message from An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar following a recent meeting with fish producer organisations (KFO, IFPO and ISWFPO) and processors, attended by An Tánaiste Simon Coveney and Michael Creed, Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine.

Minister Creed told the delegation there would be “absolutely no change” in access rights and quota share during the transition phase as rights have been included as a “key priority” in the EU 27 negotiating guidelines on the future relationship with the UK.

Michel Barnier and his team have a “clear understanding” of the issues relating to fisheries, An Taoiseach added.

“The role of the fishing industry representatives in Ireland and at EU level has been a critical factor in the success to date of having a united and strong EU position on fisheries.”

Irish fishermen are adamant that the legal text of any Brexit agreement must reflect their demands, remarked Seán O’Donoghue, Killybegs Fishermen’s Organisation.

The “clear commitment” from government is “most encouraging and another step forward on a long, turbulent and uncertain road. We couldn’t have asked for more by way of government attentiveness and support” he said.

The chief executive added it was “imperative” for unity to ensure no slippage in terms of political support and to provide certainty for the 14,500 people working in the €1.15bn seafood sector.

“Maintaining reciprocal access to waters and resources as agreed in the guidelines should be at the heart of the post-Brexit relationship in fisheries, given the historic ties and inextricable links between our countries and industries.”