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#IrishPorts - The Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said Ireland will have to hire around 1,000 new customs and veterinary inspectors to prepare the nation's ports and airports for Brexit.

As the Journal.ie reports, Varadkar said that “with growing uncertainty” about whether the UK government will pass a withdrawal agreement through Westminster, Ireland will need to “change the gear and up our preparations when it comes to Brexit”.

He was speaking after a Cabinet meeting at Derrynane in Co Kerry.

Varadkar said that this plan includes making preparations to our ports and airports, including Dublin Airport, Dublin Port and Shannon, for a change to the rules of trade between Ireland and Britain in January 2021.

“That involves preparing for and hiring veterinary inspectors to carry out sanitary checks on agricultural products and plant-based products coming in from Britain and also customs inspectors,” Varadkar said.

“We estimate that the number of people we will have to hire over the course of the next year is about 1,000 people. That’s customs and veterinary inspectors to prepare our ports and airports for Brexit.”

To read more including a list of Government measures that the cabinet has signed off, click here.

Published in Irish Ports

#Oysters - Unauthorised oysters farms have exploded in number on Lough Foyle amid a continued dispute over its ownership, as the Belfast Telegraph reports.

The estuary between the counties of Donegal and Derry remains a point of contention as Brexit looms, with both the UK and Irish governments claiming dominion over its waters.

As a result, there has been a proliferation of unregulated oyster farming that could be worth £20 million or €22.89 million each year, according to the Loughs Agency.

The Belfast Telegraph has more on this story HERE.

Published in Fishing

#IrishPorts - There are growing calls writes the Irish Examiner for additional funding to be given to ports to improve connectivity to continental Europe following Brexit.

Speaking at a joint Irish Road Haulage Association (IRHA) and Rosslare Europort conference in Wexford, EU Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, Phil Hogan said that Brexit will happen and that its final model was the only question that remained.

He called for a doubling of capacity at Rosslare, and for all ports to examine capacity, adding the forthcoming EU regional policies from 2021 to 2027 represented an opportunity for funding for which the Republic must be ready.

President of the IRHA, Verona Murphy said that because the Europort in Rosslare represents the shortest sea route for goods and passengers to continental Europe, it was ideally positioned to expand and grow in a post-Brexit scenario.

For further reading click here.

Published in Irish Ports

#IrishPorts - A leading EU official overseeing a key element of the CEF ‘Motorways of the Sea’ project has confirmed that Ireland will have increased funding opportunities under the programme after plans for it were rewritten to take into account of Brexit implications here.

Speaking at a seminar writes the Limerick Post on ‘Understanding the Opportunities from the EU’, hosted by Shannon Foynes Port Company in Limerick on Friday, European Coordinator for Motorways of the Sea Brian Simpson also told Irish ports and maritime officials “you’re pushing an open door with me”.

The “Motorways of the Sea” concept, which has significant funding available, aims to introduce new inter-modal maritime-based logistics chains in Europe, which should improve our transport organisation within the years to come.

And in another vote of support for Ireland, a second leading EU official, European Coordinator for the powerful TEN-T North Sea-Mediterranean Corridor and former Commissioner for Regional Policy Professor Peter Balazs, told the seminar that Ireland is a special case and solutions need to be found.

For further reading on the conference, click here.

Published in Irish Ports

#Brexit - Irish shipping firms are making plans to bypass ports in Britain for direct routes to the continent to avoid any potential Brexit complications, as the Irish Independent reports.

While freight traffic between Ireland and the UK will continue, a number of companies have already launched direct sea connections between Dublin and ports in Spain, France, Belgium and the Netherlands.

This is in spite of assurances by Westminster that future trade between the UK and EU would be frictionless.

The news comes as Irish ports shared concerns of isolation from the European shipping network post-Brexit, while ports in Wales could be adversely impacted by customs and border checks on routes across the Irish Sea.

Published in Ports & Shipping

#Brexit - The European Commission has published notices to stakeholders in maritime transport and in seafarers’ certificates in preparation for the United Kingdom’s exit from the European Union.

These notices are intended to facilitate preparation by EU-27 Member States and by wider stakeholders for the contingency that on 30 March 2019 the UK leaves the EU without a deal on a transitional period having been agreed (ie the no deal, disorderly Brexit scenario).

Draft legal text on a transition period, extending to 31 December 2020, is currently being negotiated with the UK. If, as part of the withdrawal process, this text is agreed and approved by EU member states and the European Parliament, many of the elements reflected in these notices will only become relevant at the end of the transition period.

However, in cases where UK ‘leading authorities’ conduct risk assessments, examinations, approvals and authorisation procedures under EU law, a leading authority in an EU-27 member state will need to take over from the UK authority from the withdrawal date (29 March 2019).

UK leading authorities currently provide product authorisations for certain medicines, pesticides, biocides, chemicals (REACH) and plant varieties. The commission has begun engaging EU-27 technical experts to seek to ensure that product authorisation processes transfer from UK leading authorities in the smoothest manner possible.

Full details are included in Marine Notice No 07 of 2018, a PDF of which is available to read or download HERE.

As previously reported on Afloat.ie, the European Sea Ports Organisation has developed a position paper calling on Brexit negotiators to prioritise maritime transport in the second phase of negotiations.

Published in Ports & Shipping

#Fishing - Marine Minister Michael Creed hosted the 13th meeting of the National Inshore Fisheries Forum (NIFF) yesterday, Thursday 22 February.

The Inshore Fisheries Forum structures, which include NIFF and six Regional Inshore Fisheries Forums (RIFFs), were established in 2014 to foster stakeholder-led development of proposals for the inshore fishing sector.

Minister Creed announced that he expects to publish a consultation paper to review the options for more restricted access for large fishing vessels fishing by means of trawls inside Ireland’s six-nautical-mile zone.

This issue has been the subject of scientific and economic reports by the Marine Institute and Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM) and some preliminary engagement with fisheries representative groups, including the NIFF.

“I recognise that this issue has been raised by the National Inshore Fisheries Forum since its inception and that there are concerns about the relatively open access for large trawlers to our inshore areas,” said the minister. “The inshore fisheries sector, including coastal and island fisherman, is dependent on inshore fish stocks.

“I am open to looking at the benefits, from an economic perspective for the inshore fleet of introducing some restrictions on large vessels. This could also have a positive biological impact on fish stocks and biodiversity.

“I am awaiting a paper from the department setting out the issues, possible benefits and options to inform my consideration of the issues and possible impacts, both positive and negative. I am planning to undertake a public consultation on the options and to hear and understand the diverse interests of stakeholders to ensure that any new measures introduced are fair and balanced.”

Minister Creed and the NIFF also discussed feedback on recent public consultations on conservation measures for brown crab and razor clams.

The consultations were held following recommendations from the NIFF and the measures are under consideration for their potential benefits to protect fish stocks in the long term. The minister also discussed the impact of Brexit on the fishing sector.

In addition, the NIFF updated the minister on its progress in preparing a sector-specific strategy for the first time.

Supported by BIM and a steering group including the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine; the Marine Institute; and the SFPA, consultants are facilitating the preparation of an Inshore Fisheries Strategy on behalf of the NIFF.

Steps taken to date include preliminary consultation, a workshop with the Regional Inshore Fisheries Forums and feedback sessions with the Steering Group.

Minister Creed welcomed the news that the next expected output is a draft strategy document for public consultation.

Published in Fishing

#Fishing - The Netherlands has demanded certainty for Europe’s fishing industry after the UK’s withdrawal from the Common Fisheries Policy, as The Guardian reports.

Dutch fisheries minister Carola Schouten called on UK environment secretary Michael Gove to provide a formal proposal for arrangements between the British and European fishing communities post Brexit.

Gove and UK fisheries minister George Eustace have been critical of the CFP quota system but the UK has yet to put forward an alternative, Schouten argues.

Lough Foyle on Ireland’s North Coast is one of many outstanding issues that need to be resolved upon Britain’s exit from the EU and its policies, as Tom MacSweeney mused earlier this month.

“It is one sea, we have to share it,” she said. “I think it is proven that the [quota] system works.”

A promised white paper on the UK’s fisheries failed to appear before the end of 2017, prompting criticism from Scotland’s fishing community in particular.

The Guardian has more on the story HERE.

Published in Fishing

#ExportersBrexit - Exporters from Ireland that go through Britain to get their produce to mainland Europe or further afield should still be able to do so after Brexit, the Revenue Commissioners expect, writes The Independent.ie

Michael Colgan, head of Revenue's Brexit Unit, said it is the body's "working assumption" that the UK land bridge for firms would still be available.

Two-thirds of exporters go through Britain, and expectations of continued use of the land bridge will come as a huge relief.

Currently, the common transit procedure of the EU is used for the movement of goods between the 28 EU member states, the EFTA countries, Turkey, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Serbia.

The rules are effectively identical to those of the Union transit.

According to the European Commission, these are used for customs transit operations between member states and are applicable to the movement of non-Union goods for which customs duties and other charges at import are at stake, and of Union goods, which, between their point of departure and point of destination in the EU, have to pass through the territory of a third country.

To read more click the link here.

Published in Dublin Port

#DUPtradefigures - The Democratic Ulster Party (DUP) has been unable to substantiate its "72 per cent" statistic in relation to trade between Northern Ireland and Britain.

As The Irish News  writes, for months the party has been using the figure to support its arguments against calls for an Irish Sea border post-Brexit.

DUP leader Arlene Foster has said "72 per cent of trade from Belfast Harbour is with Great Britain", while deputy leader Nigel Dodds has said Britain "is the primary marketplace for local produce, accounting for over 72 per cent of trade flows".

However, when asked to explain the exact meaning of the figure and provide its source, the party did not respond.

It has also emerged that official government statistics differ significantly from numbers used by Conservative MP Owen Paterson in his claims that trade between the UK and Republic is "really quite small".

The former secretary of state, an adviser to the Leave Means Leave campaign group, told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "It's five per cent of Northern Ireland exports. It's 1.6 per cent of the Republic of Ireland's exports."

According to Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency (Nisra) figures, sales to the Republic actually account for 16 per cent of Northern Ireland's external sales.

Sales to Britain make up 58 per cent, according to the statistics for 2015 which include services and tourism. The rest of the EU is nine per cent, and 17 per cent for sales to the rest of the world.

It appears Mr Paterson's five per cent figure actually represents sales to the Republic as a proportion of Northern Ireland's overall internal and external sales activity.

Although it has been used in different ways, the DUP's figure appears to only relate to trade directly through Belfast Harbour, rather than the north's overall external sales or exports.

When asked about the claim, Belfast Harbour declined to give a formal response.

For more on the story, click the newspaper's report here. 

Published in Belfast Lough
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