Brexit deal ‘demands’ future ‘compromise’ on fishing says expert
Britain finally left the EU on December 31 after signing a lucrative Trade and Corporation Agreement with the bloc worth more than £600billion to the UK economy. Fishing proved to be one of the most divisive issues of the landmark deal and, under the terms of the agreement, the UK will leave the Common Fisheries Policy and will gradually reduce the number of EU catches in British waters to 25 percent by 2026.
The European Union has set up a burden-sharing equation to distribute the financial loss around the member states, but Ireland has claimed it is set to take the biggest hit.
Agriculture Minister Charlie McConalogue says the financial loss for Ireland in terms of the price of its catches in UK waters will be double that of any other EU nation.
Britain will also take a larger share of most species of its fish and the losses for Ireland is set to be felt most in a reduction in mackerel – its most valuable catch.
Speaking to officials at the Agriculture and Fisheries Council, Mr McConalogue said: “A disproportionate burden is being borne by Ireland in relation to the package of fish quotas being transferred from the EU to the UK under the Trade and Cooperation Agreement.
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“Ireland’s concerns have been raised at the highest level.”
Mr McConalogue added he had “strongly expressed my disappointment that the principle of burden sharing within the EU has not been adequately respected”.
According to a report by the Department for Agriculture, the value of Ireland’s catches in UK waters is worth £254million (€288) each year.
The reports says a reduction of 15 percent will result in a £38m annual loss.
Its share of mackerel is also set to fall from 21 percent to 16 percent – an annual loss of around £23m (€27m).
Meanwhile, France is forecast to see a reduction of just eight percent, according to the department figures.
Although French Fishermen would keep a larger proportion of its value of catches, this would incur a higher loss of £46m (€52m).
Germany is also forecast to take a 15 percent reduction, with other minor fishing states taking a lower hit.
The current fishing quotas system is set to expire in March and will result in the number of EU vessels being reduced in UK waters.
The Irish Government is said to be furious at the future fishing arrangements, but is concerned about how to approach the issue.
One Government official said Ireland expects a “serious hearing” from EU officials in relation to fishing quotas, but has highlighted how “supportive” the bloc has been throughout the Brexit negotiations in relation to the Irish border.
They said: “We must tread gently when raising this issue, given how supportive Europe has been to Ireland on matters of critical importance, particularly in defending the Northern Ireland Protocol.
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“We, of course, don’t expect France or the Dutch to just hand some of their quotas to us. But we expect a serious hearing.
“We want our European colleagues to take a closer look at the real sums involved and, frankly, the lack of fairness that is apparent.”
The European Union has already set up an emergency Brexit Adjustment Reserve for EU member states to cope with the financial shock of Brexit.
Ireland is set to receive a quarter of the £4.7billion (€5.4bn) package and plans to spend 10 percent on the fishing industry.
Seán O’Donoghue, CEO of the Killybegs Fishermen’s Organisation, the largest lobby group in Ireland, has described the figure as “peanuts”.
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