Fianna Fáil spokesperson on Fisheries and the Marine, Leas Cheann Comharile Pat the Cope Gallagher, has challenged the Governments current state of readiness within the Marine sector for a no deal Brexit.
Deputy Gallagher said, “It is self-evident to everyone that the Marine Sector are not being given recognition when it comes to contingency planning and preparedness for the United Kingdom leaving the EU. This sector is the poor relation when it comes to preparing plans and contingency strategies post Brexit, as opposed to other sectors which have considerably better planning in place.
“The Irish Marine sector potentially has the most to lose if Brexit comes unstuck through present negotiations. The Irish fleet depends greatly on access to UK and Scottish waters in catching their respective stocks. The Minister should convene a meeting of all stakeholders in the sector to prepare for all Brexit possibilities.
“Any meeting should focus on the potential chaos for the sector, the mayhem which will result in terms of access to UK and Scottish waters, potential for conflict at sea over fishing rights, and threatened blockages of ports. Presently, with the continued uncertainty the routine fishing patterns have already been disrupted due to fear of not knowing what is to happen post Brexit.
“Our preparations thus far for the Marine sector have been haphazard and lacking in direction and cohesion. Unless we focus and bring the entire seafood sector together we could well face dire consequences, and through poor or indeed no planning the fisheries sector could suffer a massive hit.
“The British Prime Minister has stated that EU access to UK fishing grounds will end by January 1st 2020 following their exit from the European Union. Fish stocks at sea recognise no boundaries or restrictions. The United Kingdom and Ireland have never had a sea-based boundary or fishing restriction. This should remain the case post Brexit.
“I understand the Minister says he and Department officials met stakeholders however we need continuous dialogue over the next number of months. The Marine sector is facing wholesale changes and the engagement from the Department needs to reflect this.
“I am calling on the Minister to act immediately and bring all seafood and Marine stakeholders together and to set in place a forum specifically focused on Brexit. This forum should work in conjunction with the Department until this present Brexit uncertainty is comprehensively dealt with at EU and national level. The months ahead will be without doubt the greatest challenge to face the Irish Marine sector in our lifetime,” concluded Deputy Gallagher.