Brexit deal has 'smashed people's dreams' says fishing boss
On Christmas Eve, Prime Minister Boris Johnson secured an historic Brexit trade deal based on zero tariffs and zero quotas. But the Irish Government has warned there is an “increased risk” of enforcement action against Irish vessels operating in British waters.
Last week, the Northern Celtic, an Irish fishing vessel, was boarded and expelled from waters off the coast of Rockall, a small rocky outpost in the North Atlantic, which the UK claims as sovereign territory.
Now, the Irish Minister of Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney and Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Charlie McConalogue are in talks with Scottish and UK authorities to discuss Ireland’s rights in the area.
The joint statement said they were “considering all options for further engagement on the issues involved” – and admitted Irish fishermen were facing “an increased risk of enforcement action”.
They went on to say how the issue may require contact with the European Commission – a threat to quickly involve Brussels in UK policy.
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Under the Fisheries Agreement between the UK and EU, it allows EU vessels to enter six to 12 nautical mile zones only in the English and Bristol Channels.
Rockall sits within the UK’s 200 nautical miles Exclusive Economic Zone and the Scottish government has said there is no right of access for non-UK vessels to fish in these waters.
Sean O’Donoghue, chief executive of the Killybegs Fisherman’s Organisation, said Irish fishermen do not accept Scotland’s assertion of a 12-mile no-go zone.
He said: “We are hoping that the diplomatic solution that was found two years ago will be found this time as well and the status quo that has been there for decades will prevail.”
Adrian McClenaghan, the Northern Celt captain, revealed around 30 percent of his annual catch comes from around Rockall.
After his vessel was boarded last week, Mr McClenaghan said: “We were fishing in Rockall and members of the crew from the Jura boarded us.
“They informed us that we could no longer fish inside the 12-mile limit of Rockall.
“The Scottish navy are continuing to patrol the 12-mile limit and we’re waiting on further instructions from the Department of Foreign Affairs on what their next move will be.”
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A spokesperson for Marine Scotland said: “As per long-standing arrangements, Marine Scotland has reported the breach of licence conditions to their Irish and UK counterparts.
“We will always engage constructively with our EU partners in ensuring the sustainable management of fish stocks is at the heart of our partnership.”
Disputes overfishing had been one of the main stumbling blocks in trade agreement talks between London and Brussels.
Under the agreement, 25 percent of EU boats fishing rights in UK waters will be transferred to British boats over the next five years.
Following this adjustment period, in 2026, the UK will have access to an extra £145 million of fish per year.
Annual negotiations will take place between the EU and UK to decide what quota, if any, European boats can take.
However, if Britain blocks access completely the EU could respond by taxing the export of British fish.
As a result of its EU membership, the UK was subject to the controversial European Common Fisheries Policy (CFP).
Under the CFP, all member states are given access to EU waters via quotas.
As the UK has a large coastal area, critics argued the system was unfair.
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7.45am update: Eurozone crisis: Brussels nightmare as expert warns euro ‘could collapse’ – bloc on alert
Eurozone weakness is such that the EU’s single currency could fall apart if a “full fiscal and political union” is not adopted, a UK economist has warned.
Professor David Blake, Professor of Economics at City, University of London, said the monetary union’s problems were such that it was crucial for Prime Minister Boris Johnson to forge trade alliances within what the academic called the “Anglosphere” – while pushing for membership of the Trans-Pacific Partnership spearheaded by Japan.
In total, 19 of the EU27 countries are members of the eurozone, referring to the area in which the euro is used.
Since its inception 22 years ago, Prof Blake said the currency had been buffeted by a series of crises, in particular the Global Financial Crisis in 2007-08, the eurozone banking and sovereign debt crisis which began at the end of 2009, and the global coronavirus pandemic.
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