Minister Mc Conalogue exploring 'options' for Northern-registered vessels excluded from Greencastle
The options available to address the controversial, post-Brexit exclusion of Northern Ireland-registered fishing vessels from the Donegal County Council-owned Greencastle harbour, are being explored by Charlie McConalogue TD, Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine.
Minister McConalogue said: “I am looking at what options might be available to address the situation.
“Essentially, this situation is one of the significant implications of the Brexit negotiations. However, we could have been in a much worse, a much more challenging scenario if there had not been a deal on Christmas Eve past.
“It was a possibility access for Irish boats to British waters, which are obviously very close to the Donegal coast, could have been blocked off to our fishermen, and we catch one third of the national catch of fish in British waters.
“Also, in that scenario the Northern Irish-registered boats, which are the vessels we are talking about here, would not have had access or permission to come into Irish waters at all. Thankfully, as a result of the deal, that very stark scenario was avoided for our fishing sector,” said Minister McConalogue.
Admitting the outcomes were “challenging”, Minister McConalogue they had to be “examined and addressed”.
He added: “This [the situation in Greencastle] is one of those outcomes, which has resulted from the international legal status of Britain no longer being a member of the EU.
“It requires any boats which are British-registered or Northern Irish-registered to land into designated ports in the Republic. I am very much aware of the issue this creates for local fishermen who fish using Northern Ireland boats. However, Northern Ireland boats now come under the UK fisheries policy rather than the EU Common Fisheries Policy.
“I am looking at what options might be available to address the situation. I am looking at them, obviously, with urgency. What we are talking about is the designation of ports, which would meet international criteria and any regulatory infrastructural requirements around that. I am currently investigating what would be required and what it would be possible to do.
“I have been taking to many of the fishermen involved and very much understand the implications for them being able to carry out their livelihoods as they had done up until Brexit,” said Minister McConalogue.
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