A leading fishing industry representative has warned of “skirmishes at sea” throughout Europe if there is a “no-deal” Brexit.
Speaking to The Irish Examiner for Ocean Week 2020, Killybegs Fishermen’s Organisation (KFO) chief executive Sean O’Donoghue says there could be “flashpoints everywhere from Rockall to the North Sea to the Celtic Sea and English Channel”.
Fisheries biologist Dr Peter Tyndall of the National Fishermen’s Development Group says Brexit is an opportunity for Europe to accept that Ireland suffered a serious injustice in the original EU access deal.
"Ireland's moral right to greater access to its own waters must be central to any Brexit negotiations"
“So, if Britain wants to play hardball, then the quotas given to the British-registered Spanish vessels for stocks off the Irish west coast should revert to Ireland,” says Dr Tyndall.
Founding editor of the fishing industry’s monthly The Skipper publication Arthur Reynolds believes that recognition that Ireland has a moral right to greater access to its own waters must be central to any Brexit negotiations.
“Germany didn’t have to open up access to Ruhr coalfields. France didn’t have to open up access to its vineyards. Ireland and Denmark were the only two member states with a surplus of fish when the CFP was drawn up,” Reynolds says.
Reynolds cautions that he is not talking about increasing catches to an unsustainable level to compensate Ireland, but about a more equitable share out among EU coastal states of the existing resource.
The Covid-19 pandemic may have knocked Brexit off headlines, but it also exposed how dependent the British fleet is on the European market — a market which collapsed from March, when restaurants closed.
Castletownbere Fishermen’s Co-op manager John Nolan was disappointed to see how protectionist some EU partners became in the early stages of the Covid-19 related crisis on markets.
“Our Irish whitefish industry is largely export-led, and we experienced a situation where prime Irish monkfish could not be sold in France, and we ended up having to let it go for fishmeal at 10c a kilo,” Nolan says.
For more on The Irish Examiner, read here