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British Marine and the RYA have written a joint letter to the head of Britain’s HM Revenue & Customs to call for a holistic approach to the various issues facing private pleasure boaters, the second-hand market and the wider industry post-Brexit.

According to Marine Industry News, the letter covers such issues as the ‘VAT trap’ for British boaters, repatriation of vessels as pandemic restrictions continue, and the status of and reporting requirements for boats lying in Northern Ireland waters.

The two organisations are specifically calling for an extension of the one-year grace period for Returned Goods Relief to three years, on account of the various difficulties boaters currently face in regard to moving their vessels around Europe.

Howard Pridding of the RYA said: “Following months of dialogue with officials and exchanges with ministers at HMRC, we are now appealing directly to the chief executive of HMRC to bring coordination to urgently address the outstanding issues and deliver clear and unambiguous guidance that we can share with our members.”

The move comes in the same week that the Cruising Association launched its campaign for a 180-day cruising visa separate from the 90-day Schengen visa system, which would help preserve British cruisers’ traditional routes to the Netherlands, Greece, Spain and Portugal.

Published in Cruising
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NI’s Agriculture Minister has cited “practical difficulties” with the Northern Ireland Protocol in his decision to order a halt on construction of post-Brexit port inspection facilities.

According to Politico, acting DAERA Minister Gordon Lyons has also told NI ports not to levy charges on goods brought into Northern Ireland from Great Britain.

However, the order issued yesterday (Friday 26 February) does not apply to checks at existing infrastructure repurposed for the new trade regime since the end of the Brexit transition period on 31 December 2020.

Lyons’s party the DUP is currently mounting a legal challenge to the Northern Ireland Protocol, which places a de facto trade border in the Irish Sea between GB and NI.

Politico has more on the story HERE.

British cruising boaters are in the middle of a “perfect storm”, with visa issues just the latest ill wind to blow, according to a leading voice in the Cruising Association.

As Marine Industry News reports, the CA’s Regulations and Technical Services (RATS) committee chair Robin Barron says the new post-Brexit visa regime for Britons entering the EU — which allow for a 90-day stay in any 180-day period — “simply doesn’t work for cruising yachts”.

He elaborates: “My worry is that second-home owners — who find themselves in the same position — will lobby successfully to have an extension, but the Cruising Association needs to make sure that any development includes people in boats and that a visa status change isn’t dependent on having a second address.”

Baron adds that he is looking at ways to make reciprocal arrangements happen within the Schengen Area.

“We’re trying to raise localised support, from marinas and other marine trades in target countries like Spain, Portugal and Greece,” he says. “We’re hoping they’ll help pressure their MPs to grant extended visas.”

Meanwhile, the so-called ‘VAT trap’ threatens to tie up countless numbers of British-owned boats in foreign marinas as the costs to bring them home run into the thousands.

Marine Industry News has much more on the story HERE.

Published in Cruising

Fishing crews wishing to access UK waters must complete an application form made available online by the Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine.

The application covers access to the UK EEZ (12-200 nautical miles only) and/or the 0-6 nautical mile zone of Northern Ireland.

Among the strict criteria for acceptance is having a valid IMO number for any vessel 12 metres or greater in length.

For further details, and to download the application form, see the Gov.ie website HERE.

Published in Fishing
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Some Irish boat-buyers may be able to purchase new or second-hand vessels from the UK free of VAT.

But for most yacht-shoppers, Brexit has pushed the cost of buying much higher — just as it’s done for the used car market.

In response to a number of queries from concerned readers, Afloat.ie understands that the UK’s Sailaway boats scheme could be an option for some buyers, provided they will sail or motor their pleasure craft from the UK to Ireland and will keep it permanently outside the UK.

This scheme is not applicable to boats purchased for commercial use or transported as cargo. For these and all over new vessels, Customs Duty (including import VAT at 21%) will apply.

An exception exists for some second-hand vessels where the UK VAT was paid before the end of the Brexit transition period.

If an individual in Ireland bought a second-hand boat in Great Britain, on which UK VAT had been paid, and the deal was completed and the boat brought to Ireland before 11pm on 31 December 2020, it is Afloat.ie's understanding that the buyer will not owe Irish VAT on the purchase.

All purchases since that date are subject to Irish VAT, however.

It's also understood that second-hand boats purchased from Northern Ireland are not subject to additional VAT if proof can be shown that the vessel has paid VAT and had been owned by an NI resident. But this would not apply to any vessel imported from the UK through Northern Ireland.

Online customs charges are another potential complication for Irish shoppers browsing the UK boat marketplace.

While the Brexit trade deal agreed in December exempts goods made in the UK from customs charges in Ireland, duty will be payable on many products that have been imported into the UK from elsewhere.

Irish VAT will be payable regardless on all packages valued at €22 or more (including postage) until 30 June 2021, after which VAT will be paying on all goods entering the EU irrespective of value.

Afloat.ie understands that the future tax status of boats now depends on where they were as the Brexit transition period ended.

Those in Ireland at that time, regardless of nationality, retain the status of “Union goods” and can — nominally at least — move freely in EU waters.

Those that were in the UK, however, now face numerous restrictions on future movement — not limited to new VAT liability.

Boats in Northern Ireland are for now recognised as having both UK status and “union status” — a move which averted a potential influx of visiting boats and concerned owners into Irish marinas over the Christmas period.

Businesses seeking to import new or second-hand boats from the UK to Ireland will have to register for an Economic Operators Registration and Identification (EORI) number and complete various customs declarations.

Rules for Irish boaters cruising to British waters (and vice versa) are not yet as clearly defined.

While there has been no change for those cruising between Ireland and Northern Ireland, boaters crossing from Ireland to Great Britain (and vice versa) are strongly advised to keep proof of VAT-paid status on board at all times, as well as complete form C1331 for HM Revenue & Customs.

All arrivals in Great Britain from Ireland (except Northern Ireland) must also hoist flat Q on first arrival and keep it flying until clearance is granted via the National Yachtline (charges may apply).

Temporary admission of a UK vessel for private use into Ireland (including spare parts for minor repairs or servicing) is allowed “without formality” for a maximum of 18 months.

Sailboats and equipment may also be imported temporarily for sports events, but paperwork (such as an ATA Carnet) may apply.

Update 9/2/21: This story was updated to clarify a point around VAT liability on second-hand boats purchased from Great Britain before the end of the Brexit transition period. Thanks to Norman Kean for his assistance.

Published in Boat Sales
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“All sorts of strange things” will emerge this year for UK sailors in EU waters as post-Brexit issues remain to be ironed out.

As Sailing Today reports, RYA cruising manager Stuart Carruthers has outlined some harsh truths for British boat owners who had been used to easy cruising excursions beyond home shores.

“As an example, the whole idea of taking a sabbatical in the Mediterranean, living on your boat, which you’ve bought with your pension, has just disappeared out of the window now that we are subject to Schengen Area visitor visa rules. That is just one post-Brexit reality,” he said.

Meanwhile, EU member states appear to be taking a less than harmonious approach to recognition of British boats’ VAT paid status, as the Cruising Association’s Brexit spokesperson Roger Bickerstaff has warned.

“We’re going to be seeing different countries taking different views,” he said.

Carruthers also noted: “The status of boats in Northern Ireland is also unclear — are they classed as UK goods, Union goods, will they be able to enter Great Britain VAT-free?”

Sailing Today has much more on the story HERE.

Marine minister Charlie McConalogue says he has expressed Ireland’s “serious concerns” at EU level about a “ disproportionate burden being borne” by it in relation to fish quotas lost under Brexit.

Mr McConalogue said he conveyed this at an informal EU agriculture and fisheries council on January 25th, and Ireland was “awaiting to hear how this matter will be urgently addressed.”

An Oireachtas agriculture and marine committee was told last week that Ireland had taken a disproportionately large hit in the final deal.

Killybegs Fishermen's Organisation chief executive Sean O’Donoghue said that if the total loss to nine coastal states is valued at €182 million, Ireland should have lost some €20 million in quotas.

Instead, Ireland’s loss has been calculated at over €42 million, he noted.

Killybegs Fishermen's Organisation chief executive Sean O’DonoghueKillybegs Fishermen's Organisation chief executive Sean O’Donoghue

The frontloading of cuts over five-and-a-half years to 60 per cent this year was also unexpected, he said.

“We have formally requested our government to go back to Brussels and demand that the eight other EU coastal countries step up to the plate and take a proportionate hit on the Brexit deal,” he said.

Mr McConalogue said this week that he had made it clear that "ministers at council must have a direct engagement in the negotiations between the EU and UK to ensure that the fishing industry and other stakeholders have confidence that their concerns and voices are heard and understood".

The informal EU council meeting focused on the preparation for discussions between the EU Commission and the UK on setting TACs and fish quotas for 2021, he said.

Existing provisional quotas are due to end in March, and full-year TACs must be negotiated with Britain before then.

New procedures for interactions with the UK are being put in place, Mr McConalogue said, and member states’ priorities for the negotiations were discussed at this meeting.

“In relation to setting TACs for 2021, I made clear that Ireland is fully committed to respecting setting quotas in line with fishing at maximum sustainable levels (MSY) where this is known, and for other stocks all available data and information must inform TAC setting,” he said.

Published in Fishing
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Marine red diesel is still on sale to leisure vessels in the UK despite Westminster’s pre-Brexit plans to phase it out, the Cruising Association says.

As previously reported on Afloat.ie, the British Government made clear its intention to legislate for a ban on the use of subsidised dyed or ‘red’ diesel except for agriculture, railway and non-commercial heating.

It follows a judgment from the European Court of Justice that also necessitated Ireland’s own ban on green-dyed diesel use for cruising and leisure boating which came into force at the start of 2020.

Now that Britain has left the EU, red diesel will continue to be legal for the propulsion of vessels in the UK until April 2022, says the body that represents Britain’s small-boat cruising community.

However, red diesel in craft engine tanks is not permitted in the EU27 and other countries — including Ireland.

The CA’s Regulations and Technical Services group (RATS) says it has received information from HM Revenue and Customs that they agree the Istanbul Convention of 1990 allows vessels to make visits to the EU27 and elsewhere without import prohibitions or restrictions on propulsion fuel.

This includes visiting craft with UK red marine diesel — or red dye traces — in their engine tanks, it adds. But it is unclear whether EU27 countries will implement their own laws in accordance with the Convention as expected.

The situation is also different in Northern Ireland, where the Northern Ireland Protocol means relevant EU directives will continue to apply.

“If this affects what fuel private pleasure craft (PPC) in Northern Ireland can use, HMRC will provide an update at the appropriate time,” the CA says.

Published in Cruising

A crisis in Scotland’s fishing industry since the end of the Brexit transition period has only worsened as a leading logistics provider has called a halt to deliveries of fresh seafood to the EU amid a raft of delays.

As the Guardian reports, DFDS paused its deliveries of live seafood and fresh fish to France, Spain and elsewhere on the continent last Friday (8 January) over issues with health certificates, customs documentation and IT difficulties.

It’s hoped deliveries can resume from next Monday 18 March but the company has warned they will take significantly longer than before Brexit — prompting fears that Scotland’s £1 billion seafood trade with Europe could disappear.

The Guardian has more on the story HERE.

Published in Scottish Waters
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Ireland’s fishing fleet stands to lose more than a quarter of the quota of its largest fishery in transfers to the UK under the recent Brexit trade deal.

And the quota share for herring caught in the Irish Sea will be cut by a whopping 96%, according to figures published by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine today, Wednesday 13 January.

In its primary analysis of the reduction of quota shares under the EU/UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement reached last month, the department estimates there will be a 26% reduction in the western mackerel quota share, Ireland’s largest fishery.

In Ireland’s largest non-pelagic fishery — prawns — the Irish quota share reduction will be 14%.

The other whitefish fisheries where there are notable reductions are hake (3% in Celtic Sea), haddock (11% in Celtic Sea, 16 in Irish Sea, 22.6% at Rockall), megrim (8% in Celtic Sea, 19% in West of Scotland), anglerfish/monkfish (7% in Celtic Sea, 20% in West of Scotland) and pollack (8% in Celtic Sea).

Several smaller whitefish quotas in the Donegal/West of Scotland area have seen sizeable quota share reductions, the report states, with the largest part — 60% — between 2020 and 2021.

The aggregate final quota transfer by Ireland after five years (in 2026) is estimated to be €43 million which amounts to a 15% reduction compared to the overall value of the 2020 Irish quotas.

Alongside Germany, this represents the largest transfer as a proportion of quota value among the EU’s maritime states.

The report, which is attached below emphasises that it is based on a preliminary analysis of available data and should be used as a guide only.

Published in Fishing
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Ireland's Commercial Fishing 

The Irish Commercial Fishing Industry employs around 11,000 people in fishing, processing and ancillary services such as sales and marketing. The industry is worth about €1.22 billion annually to the Irish economy. Irish fisheries products are exported all over the world as far as Africa, Japan and China.

FAQs

Over 16,000 people are employed directly or indirectly around the coast, working on over 2,000 registered fishing vessels, in over 160 seafood processing businesses and in 278 aquaculture production units, according to the State's sea fisheries development body Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM).

All activities that are concerned with growing, catching, processing or transporting fish are part of the commercial fishing industry, the development of which is overseen by BIM. Recreational fishing, as in angling at sea or inland, is the responsibility of Inland Fisheries Ireland.

The Irish fishing industry is valued at 1.22 billion euro in gross domestic product (GDP), according to 2019 figures issued by BIM. Only 179 of Ireland's 2,000 vessels are over 18 metres in length. Where does Irish commercially caught fish come from? Irish fish and shellfish is caught or cultivated within the 200-mile exclusive economic zone (EEZ), but Irish fishing grounds are part of the common EU "blue" pond. Commercial fishing is regulated under the terms of the EU Common Fisheries Policy (CFP), initiated in 1983 and with ten-yearly reviews.

The total value of seafood landed into Irish ports was 424 million euro in 2019, according to BIM. High value landings identified in 2019 were haddock, hake, monkfish and megrim. Irish vessels also land into foreign ports, while non-Irish vessels land into Irish ports, principally Castletownbere, Co Cork, and Killybegs, Co Donegal.

There are a number of different methods for catching fish, with technological advances meaning skippers have detailed real time information at their disposal. Fisheries are classified as inshore, midwater, pelagic or deep water. Inshore targets species close to shore and in depths of up to 200 metres, and may include trawling and gillnetting and long-lining. Trawling is regarded as "active", while "passive" or less environmentally harmful fishing methods include use of gill nets, long lines, traps and pots. Pelagic fisheries focus on species which swim close to the surface and up to depths of 200 metres, including migratory mackerel, and tuna, and methods for catching include pair trawling, purse seining, trolling and longlining. Midwater fisheries target species at depths of around 200 metres, using trawling, longlining and jigging. Deepwater fisheries mainly use trawling for species which are found at depths of over 600 metres.

There are several segments for different catching methods in the registered Irish fleet – the largest segment being polyvalent or multi-purpose vessels using several types of gear which may be active and passive. The polyvalent segment ranges from small inshore vessels engaged in netting and potting to medium and larger vessels targeting whitefish, pelagic (herring, mackerel, horse mackerel and blue whiting) species and bivalve molluscs. The refrigerated seawater (RSW) pelagic segment is engaged mainly in fishing for herring, mackerel, horse mackerel and blue whiting only. The beam trawling segment focuses on flatfish such as sole and plaice. The aquaculture segment is exclusively for managing, developing and servicing fish farming areas and can collect spat from wild mussel stocks.

The top 20 species landed by value in 2019 were mackerel (78 million euro); Dublin Bay prawn (59 million euro); horse mackerel (17 million euro); monkfish (17 million euro); brown crab (16 million euro); hake (11 million euro); blue whiting (10 million euro); megrim (10 million euro); haddock (9 million euro); tuna (7 million euro); scallop (6 million euro); whelk (5 million euro); whiting (4 million euro); sprat (3 million euro); herring (3 million euro); lobster (2 million euro); turbot (2 million euro); cod (2 million euro); boarfish (2 million euro).

Ireland has approximately 220 million acres of marine territory, rich in marine biodiversity. A marine biodiversity scheme under Ireland's operational programme, which is co-funded by the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund and the Government, aims to reduce the impact of fisheries and aquaculture on the marine environment, including avoidance and reduction of unwanted catch.

EU fisheries ministers hold an annual pre-Christmas council in Brussels to decide on total allowable catches and quotas for the following year. This is based on advice from scientific bodies such as the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea. In Ireland's case, the State's Marine Institute publishes an annual "stock book" which provides the most up to date stock status and scientific advice on over 60 fish stocks exploited by the Irish fleet. Total allowable catches are supplemented by various technical measures to control effort, such as the size of net mesh for various species.

The west Cork harbour of Castletownbere is Ireland's biggest whitefish port. Killybegs, Co Donegal is the most important port for pelagic (herring, mackerel, blue whiting) landings. Fish are also landed into Dingle, Co Kerry, Rossaveal, Co Galway, Howth, Co Dublin and Dunmore East, Co Waterford, Union Hall, Co Cork, Greencastle, Co Donegal, and Clogherhead, Co Louth. The busiest Northern Irish ports are Portavogie, Ardglass and Kilkeel, Co Down.

Yes, EU quotas are allocated to other fleets within the Irish EEZ, and Ireland has long been a transhipment point for fish caught by the Spanish whitefish fleet in particular. Dingle, Co Kerry has seen an increase in foreign landings, as has Castletownbere. The west Cork port recorded foreign landings of 36 million euro or 48 per cent in 2019, and has long been nicknamed the "peseta" port, due to the presence of Spanish-owned transhipment plant, Eiranova, on Dinish island.

Most fish and shellfish caught or cultivated in Irish waters is for the export market, and this was hit hard from the early stages of this year's Covid-19 pandemic. The EU, Asia and Britain are the main export markets, while the middle Eastern market is also developing and the African market has seen a fall in value and volume, according to figures for 2019 issued by BIM.

Fish was once a penitential food, eaten for religious reasons every Friday. BIM has worked hard over several decades to develop its appeal. Ireland is not like Spain – our land is too good to transform us into a nation of fish eaters, but the obvious health benefits are seeing a growth in demand. Seafood retail sales rose by one per cent in 2019 to 300 million euro. Salmon and cod remain the most popular species, while BIM reports an increase in sales of haddock, trout and the pangasius or freshwater catfish which is cultivated primarily in Vietnam and Cambodia and imported by supermarkets here.

The EU's Common Fisheries Policy (CFP), initiated in 1983, pooled marine resources – with Ireland having some of the richest grounds and one of the largest sea areas at the time, but only receiving four per cent of allocated catch by a quota system. A system known as the "Hague Preferences" did recognise the need to safeguard the particular needs of regions where local populations are especially dependent on fisheries and related activities. The State's Sea Fisheries Protection Authority, based in Clonakilty, Co Cork, works with the Naval Service on administering the EU CFP. The Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine and Department of Transport regulate licensing and training requirements, while the Marine Survey Office is responsible for the implementation of all national and international legislation in relation to safety of shipping and the prevention of pollution.

Yes, a range of certificates of competency are required for skippers and crew. Training is the remit of BIM, which runs two national fisheries colleges at Greencastle, Co Donegal and Castletownbere, Co Cork. There have been calls for the colleges to be incorporated into the third-level structure of education, with qualifications recognised as such.

Safety is always an issue, in spite of technological improvements, as fishing is a hazardous occupation and climate change is having its impact on the severity of storms at sea. Fishing skippers and crews are required to hold a number of certificates of competency, including safety and navigation, and wearing of personal flotation devices is a legal requirement. Accidents come under the remit of the Marine Casualty Investigation Board, and the Health and Safety Authority. The MCIB does not find fault or blame, but will make recommendations to the Minister for Transport to avoid a recurrence of incidents.

Fish are part of a marine ecosystem and an integral part of the marine food web. Changing climate is having a negative impact on the health of the oceans, and there have been more frequent reports of warmer water species being caught further and further north in Irish waters.

Brexit, Covid 19, EU policies and safety – Britain is a key market for Irish seafood, and 38 per cent of the Irish catch is taken from the waters around its coast. Ireland's top two species – mackerel and prawns - are 60 per cent and 40 per cent, respectively, dependent on British waters. Also, there are serious fears within the Irish industry about the impact of EU vessels, should they be expelled from British waters, opting to focus even more efforts on Ireland's rich marine resource. Covid-19 has forced closure of international seafood markets, with high value fish sold to restaurants taking a large hit. A temporary tie-up support scheme for whitefish vessels introduced for the summer of 2020 was condemned by industry organisations as "designed to fail".

Sources: Bord Iascaigh Mhara, Marine Institute, Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine, Department of Transport © Afloat 2020

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