Donegal Deputy Pat the Cope Gallagher has partly welcomed the new increase in fish quotas for fishermen in the North West but said Brexit is casting a long shadow on the future of the industry.
Deputy Gallagher stated that the Irish Marine sector faces uncertain times with no emerging deal between the EU and the UK Government.
In the absence of a deal the Irish Fishing sector could face a scenario whereby they will be unable to access Scottish and UK waters, warns Gallagher, Fianna Fáil Marine spokesperson.
He said: “As I have stated previously, the Brexit talks are failing to take into consideration the hundreds of years of joint fisheries that have existed between Ireland, England and Scotland – the fish at sea know no boundaries and when fishermen are in pursuit of their catch they must follow the run of fish and that works both ways.”
Deputy Gallagher said the quota talks have a mixed outcome for the local fishing sector:
“An overall increase of 30% in whitefish quota, including Rockall Haddock (+92%), and monkfish (25 %) in for the North West will provide improved fishing opportunities for whitefish fishermen especially from Donegal but at the same time cuts to Blue Whiting ( -20% ) less catch and the cut of (- 20 %) in Mackerel will cost the Irish fleet considerably over the coming year.
“Any cut to the total allowable catch will hurt our coastal communities and the onshore jobs in the sector which solely depend on the annual catches.
“Many of our onshore jobs are becoming very short in season and cuts to catches have devastating consequences to their incomes.
“In terms of pelagic quota, there are increases in western horse mackerel 18% and Atlanto Scandian herring 35%.
“Unfortunately it was not all good news as there is a 20% reduction in mackerel which I made public in late November in advance of Council as it was agreed by EU/Norway/ Faroes .”
Deputy Gallagher estimated that the cut in the mackerel quotas will cost the Marine sector another €20 million in 2019, on top of a further €48 million in cuts to the mackerel quota over the past three years.
Pat the Cope said he believes no contingency plans exist for such a ‘dire scenario’ as a no deal and it is essential that the government prepares for every possible outcome or scenario.
“I am calling on the Minister and the Government to outline and detail the advances made in contingency planning since the UK Government withdrew the substantive vote in the House of Commons,” concluded Pat the Cope.