Irish mackerel and prawn fisheries are heavily dependent on access to UK waters

Irish fishermen the length and breadth of Ireland are in a “heightened state of anxiety” following the second defeat of the UK Withdrawal Agreement, in the House of Commons last night.

“We’ve been beating this drum for a long time in stating that the seafood and fishing industries are uniquely exposed given the  sharing of fishing grounds with he UK,” remarked Seán O’Donoghue, CEO, Killybegs Fishermen’s Organisation.

In an unscheduled meeting of the Cabinet, the Department of the Taoiseach reiterated that every important commercial fishing stock was shared with the UK and that approximately one-third of all landings by Irish vessels came from UK waters.

“An orderly Brexit is imperative, otherwise we face chaos and conflict on the high seas in the very near future, not to mention major conflict issues around exports and landings,” O’Donoghue added.

In the event of a ‘no-deal Brexit’, the KFO chief executive said that existing access and quota sharing arrangements “must be maintained at a minimum” until the end of 2019, as set out in a Commission proposal:

“Whereas fish are mobile and know no borders nor bear any nationality, our trawlers don’t have this luxury and must obey boundaries and exclusion zones.

“Our industry is standing on the edge of a precipice and everything we have striven for and developed for generations is staring into the abyss.

“We have worked tirelessly on this for almost two years; we’ve achieved a great deal in terms of commitments in both the Withdrawal Agreement and Political Declaration, only to be now faced with this latest shambles in Westminster.

“The situation is must too serious to be playing politics with the livelihoods of Irish fishermen,” O’Donoghue stressed.