Fianna Fáil TD for Louth Declan Breathnach has called on the Government to prioritise the protection of Irish fish stocks during the Brexit negotiations.

Deputy Breathnach pointed out that the Irish fishing industry could face significant disruption should a ‘hard Brexit’ occur. The Louth TD says fishing communities in areas such as Clogherhead, Annagassan and Greenore need to be protected.

Deputy Breathnach said, “Brexit represents a serious threat to the Irish fishing industry as it could fundamentally alter the current quota system. The Government needs to engage proactively to protect our fishing communities from the Brexit fallout.

“All current indications point to a strong possibility of a ‘hard Brexit’ occurring once the negotiations conclude. This could result in the UK Government pulling out of the current quota system and only allowing UK registered vessels to fish in their territorial waters. This would have a significant impact on Irish fishing communities as it would significantly reduce the current shared fishing zone.

“The knock on impact of this would be two fold as the rest of the European fishing fleet would be forced to fish in a smaller catchment area, with Irish fishing waters accounting for most of this area. This would put further pressure on the long-term sustainability of Irish stocks, and would reduce even further the proportion of fish in our waters, which are available to Irish fishermen.

The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine have already admitted that a ‘hard Brexit’ would be a fundamental threat to the seafood sector in Ireland as more than one third of Irish landings are currently taken from UK waters. What’s more worrying is the fact that this figure increases significantly for some of our most important stocks.

“Minister for the Marine Michael Creed has to date refused to begin an internal review of the Common Fisheries Policy. This is simply unacceptable considering the huge threat that Brexit poses for our fishing communities. The Government needs to ensure that the needs of our fishing sector is placed at the heart of the Brexit negotiations,” concluded Deputy Breathnach.