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Displaying items by tag: Brexit

Michael Gove, UK minister responsible for no-deal planning, has written to logistics groups with the government's "reasonable worst-case scenario" planning, which warns of possible two-day delays for cargo travelling to France in January.

The Cabinet Office document states that, in its reasonable worst-case scenario, between 30-50% of trucks crossing the English Channel will not be ready for the new regulations coming into force on 1 January 2021.

A "lack of capacity to hold unready trucks at French ports" could also reduce the flow of traffic across the strait to 60-80% of normal levels.

"This could lead to maximum queues of 7,000 port bound trucks in Kent and associated maximum delays of up to two days," the documents said.

Such delays could be in place for at least three months, hauliers have been warned, as alternative routes are sought and supply chains get to grips with the new systems and requirements.

RTE News has more on this trade-congestion scenario. 

Published in Ferry

In the UK the Government, according to Belfast Telegraph, is set to pay for work on post-Brexit port checks in Northern Ireland, DAERA Minister Edwin Poots has said.

The DUP MLA told the BBC that the UK Government would now pay for the work after he reportedly proposed pausing it due to the current political uncertainty around Brexit.

In the summer, the Government said enhanced regulatory checks would be required on animals and food products crossing the Irish Sea from Great Britain to Northern Ireland under the terms of the Brexit deal.

The Executive assumed a legal responsibility to undertake the work for the Government to enable it to fulfil its international obligations under the Withdrawal Agreement.

However, Mr Poots expressed a reluctance to commit an estimated £40m to the project without further clarity. Click for more here

Published in Ports & Shipping
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Marine Minister Charlie McConalogue has reaffirmed the Government’s commitment to a fisheries agreement with the UK that protects Ireland’s fishing industry post-Brexit.

Industry representatives attended the meeting today, Wednesday 16 September, where they emphasised that unity with other EU member states and institutions is key.

They also expounded on the serious implications for the Irish fishing industry and coastal communities without a fisheries agreement with the UK — or any deal which grants the UK’s demands for a greater share of fish stocks and restricted access to UK fishing grounds.

In response, Minister McConalogue said he would continue to “press for a fisheries agreement with the UK that protects the mandate and upholds both existing quota shares and existing reciprocal access to UK waters”. He acknowledged the importance of such an agreement being linked to any future trade deal.

The minister also listened to industry concerns regarding the Statutory Instrument on points for serious infringements of the Common Fisheries Policy.

He explained Ireland’s position and noted the commitment of all to effective controls to protect the valuable fishing resources in Ireland’s 200-mile zone, and the need for the country to meet its EU obligations in the area.

Speaking later, Minister McConalogue said: “I was very glad to have the opportunity today to meet with the fishing industry representatives.

“We had a very useful exchange on the challenges for the sector posed by the UK’s exit from the EU and the Statutory Instrument on points. I intend to continue this close engagement with the fishing industry going forward.”

Published in Fishing
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The European Commission president has warned the British government not to backtrack on its commitments in the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement pertaining to fishing rights, among other issues.

Ursula von der Leyen spoke out on Twitter as a furore has grown over leaked diplomatic cables seen by the Guardian which indicate that the UK intends to hold back on compromise on outstanding issues such as fisheries to provoke a last-minute “trade off”.

As the final round of negotiations gets under way in London today, Tuesday 8 September, Whitehall has also been accused of “introducing” a new “concept” with regards to access for European fishing fleets in British waters — which intersect with Irish waters in a number of key areas.

The UK government position is apparently now that “80% of the common stocks” are designated as “priority stocks” for British fishermen.

The Guardian has much more on the story HERE.

Published in Fishing
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Supertrawlers spent almost twice as much time fishing in the UK’s protected waters in the first half of this year than in the whole of 2019, according to an investigation by Greenpeace.

As the Guardian reports, supertrawlers spent 5,590 hours fishing in 19 of the UK’s marine protected areas between 1 January and 30 June this year.

Much of that time overlapped with coronavirus restrictions that saw most of the UK’s regular fishing fleet confined to port with the collapse of their biggest markets.

And the figure also represents a massive increase in the 475 hours in total fishing of protected areas recorded just three years ago, as the Greenpeace data reveals.

The news follows fears of “skirmishes at sea” from Rockall to the English Channel in the event of a no-deal Brexit when the Irish fleet moves to asserts its “moral right to greater access to its own waters”.

The Guardian has more on the story HERE.

The latest Marine Notice from the Irish Maritime Administration compiles links to a series of updated notices from the European Commission on the legal and practical implications arising at the end of the Brexit transition period on 31 December this year.

The seven readiness notices comprise the following:

The Commission Communication of 9 July 2020 highlights the importance for stakeholders of ensuring their readiness for the automatic changes arising following the end of the transition period as of 1 January 2021.

These Commission-published notices are intended to facilitate preparation by EU-27 member states and by wider stakeholders in the areas concerned for the end of the UK’s transition period on 31 December 2020.

Published in Irish Ports
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A Welsh MP has claimed the granting of a freeport status to the (ferry)port of Holyhead could “transform” the fortunes of the town and Anglesey as a whole.

The Government, writes NorthWalesLive, has already promised to create up to 10 freeports across the UK after Brexit.

Being included in such a free port zone would mean that they would be considered to be outside of the UK for customs purposes — meaning companies could import and export goods without paying the usual tariffs.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak is widely reported to be planning to open bidding for towns, cities and regions to become freeports in his autumn budget.

Such reports suggest the ports would be “fully operational” within 18 months of the UK leaving the customs union and single market at the end of this year.

Virginia Crosbie, in a pre-election pledge, promised to campaign for Holyhead to be given such status which she said would “put Holyhead on the international map” as well as “unleash hundreds of new, good quality jobs” and boost tourism.

For more on the north Wales ferryport (incl. the cruise sector) click here. 

Published in Ferry

Negotiations with the UK over future fisheries arrangements were the focus of the first meeting between Ireland’s new Marine Minister, Barry Cowen, and the EU Fisheries Commissioner this past week.

Meeting virtually with Virginius Sinkevičius on Thursday (9 July) from his department’s Tullamore offices, Minister Cowen discussed the importance of the EU’s agreed Brexit negotiation mandate to “uphold existing reciprocal access conditions, quota shares and traditional activity of the Union fleet”.

Minister Cowen said: “This was a very useful first discussion with Commissioner Sinkevičius and it was important to be able to talk first-hand with the commissioner about Ireland’s concerns in relation to the potential negative impacts for our fishing communities in Ireland if we do not put in place a fair and balanced Fisheries Agreement with the UK.

“I reiterated this Government’s full support for the EU negotiating mandate and my confidence that the commissioner and [EU chief negotiator] Michel Barnier will continue to be strong defenders of Irish and EU fishing interests.

“It is clear to me that the negotiations on a fisheries agreement can only be successfully considered in the overall context of the wider EU/UK future relationship agreement and leveraging this will be vital in protecting our coastal communities”.

The minister and Commissioner Sinkevičius also discussed non-Brexit-related fisheries issues such as measures against illegal fishing, and Ireland’s commitment to promoting sustainability in setting quotas and fishing methods, as well as the future European Maritime Fisheries and Aquaculture Fund.

Published in Fishing
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Fisheries Minister Michael Creed has welcomed a briefing on the EU’s fisheries negotiations with the UK from Brussels’ chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier.

Minister Creed attended the meeting yesterday (Tuesday 26 May) with Barnier and Fisheries Commissioner Virginius Sinkevicius which involved ministers from member states most impacted by the UK’s withdrawal from the EU, including France, Germany, Spain, Denmark, Sweden, the Netherlands and Belgium.

The ministers were given an update by Barnier on the state of play in the negotiations on a fisheries agreement with the UK after three rounds of discussions have been completed.

The meeting focused on the EU negotiating mandate for these discussions, which sets down the EU position to “uphold existing reciprocal access conditions, quota shares and traditional activity of the Union fleet”.

Ministers welcomed Barnier’s commitment to the linkage between all the parts of these complex negotiations, and specifically the link between the overall economic partnership and the conclusion of a fishing agreement.

All ministers expressed full confidence in Barnier and his team to defend the essential objectives and principles set down in the mandate.

Minister Creed said: “I very much welcome this detailed briefing from Mr Barnier on the current state of play in the fisheries negotiations. The fourth round of negotiations commence next week and it was very useful to hear directly from Mr Barnier about the issues arising and the challenges involved.

“I reiterated Ireland’s full commitment to the EU negotiating mandate and delivering an outcome that upholds our existing access and quota shares. That position was also supported by other ministers.

“The work done to date by Mr Barnier and his team gives confidence that Irish and EU fishing interests will be robustly defended in the negotiations.”

Published in Fishing
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Politicians from the Unionist tradition, The Irish Times writes, have responded with annoyance and dismay after a junior Sinn Féin Minister told a Stormont committee that there will be new physical border posts at Northern Ireland ports.

An “Irish Sea border is now a certainty”, the Ulster Unionist Party leader Steve Aiken said on Thursday following comments by Sinn Féin Minister Declan Kearney that border posts are to be created to deal with trade coming into Northern Ireland from Britain.

Mr Kearney told the Assembly’s Executive Office scrutiny committee that the “British government has confirmed it will urgently put in place detailed plans with the Executive, which does include the physical posts at ports of entry”.

(The Minister) Mr Kearney informed former Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson that the British government had signalled that “delivery on that infrastructure needs to start as soon as possible”.

“The British government has indicated that it will provide advice on the requirements and the funding to put that in place.”

Ms Anderson, in her questioning of Mr Kearney on Wednesday, indicated the posts would be at Belfast, Larne and Warrenpoint and would be designed to accommodate additional customs officers and vets, who would be dealing with livestock.

More on this Brexit development here. 

Published in Ferry
Page 2 of 9

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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