voisinage map

Sea-fisheries (Amendment) Bill 2017 could inadvertently allow access to Ireland’s 0-6nm zone to six EU countries

The Sea-Fisheries (Amendment) Bill 2017 could inadvertently allow access to Ireland’s six-mile limit to all contracting parties of the 1964 London Fisheries Convention, a fishing representative has warned.

This bill, which is to enable Irish and Northern Irish fishermen reciprocal access on a legal basis (voisinage agreement) to each other’s waters, was passed by Seanad Éireann (26/7) and proceeds to the Dáil tomorrow at 2.30pm, to go ‘All Stages’.

The 1960s international agreement relates to fishing rights across the coastal waters of Western Europe in the North Sea, the Skagerrak, the Kattegat and on the European Atlantic coast.

The board of the Irish Fish Producers Organisation has stated it is “committed to a fisheries bill that provides for reciprocal fishing access but also a fisheries bill that addresses all of the concerns of the Irish fishing industry,” stressed Francis O’Donnell, CEO.

The secretary of the London Fisheries Convention is being advised of the potential implications and new access the bill may afford to members of the convention.

According to the IFPO’s legal adviser, access to at least six other countries to Ireland’s six-mile zone “cannot be ruled out and is very likely and in fact probable’.

O’Donnell added they were keen to work with fishing organisations “North and South” to close off any loopholes in the current bill so that [it] serves fishermen in both jurisdictions “in a fair and transparent way”.

“The bill now before the House needs further and absolute clarification and in particular the issues of access that may be given to other countries to fish inside Ireland’s six-mile exclusive fisheries limits.”