Tuesday, 1 June 2021
Saincheisteanna Tráthúla - Topical Issue Debate
Common Fisheries Policy
I thank the Deputy. I will deal first with the final point, which was the respectful nature in which the fishermen made their protests and their point, and I want to recognise that as well. They certainly made their point very strongly.
As I said in my opening contribution, any sector that has been impacted in the way they have, coming out of Brexit, where 15% of quota is to be lost between now and 2026, would be massively frustrated, and that is certainly a source of massive frustration to our fishing sector. The fact a no-deal Brexit would have been worse, or what the British Government was looking for in negotiations would have been worse, is only small consolation given the fact there is a 15% impact. As I recognise that very strongly, I have set up a fisheries task force to advise on how we can invest in the sector to mitigate the impact of Brexit, alongside the efforts I will make at European level in regard to addressing burden sharing and, importantly, to support the sector financially to grow and to mitigate the impact of Brexit in the time ahead. I will be very much advised by the fisheries task force on how to go about that.
On weighing at the pier and the revocation of the control plan which facilitated weighing in factories, that has undoubtedly posed a very significant challenge for many fishermen. It is a decision the European Commission has taken following on from an administrative inquiry that it carried out. The Sea-Fisheries Protection Authority has the legal and operational responsibility in this regard and it is engaging with the sector to seek to address the impact of that decision. It recently outlined to the Oireachtas committee its intention to work towards developing a new control plan.
I fully understand the impact this will have, particularly for the whitefish sector. In the wider sense, I will work with the sector in every way I can to deal with the many challenges that face it at the moment and to help it grow into the future.