Tuesday, 22 November 2016
Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine
Common Fisheries Policy
While the United Kingdom remains a member of the European Union, under the Common Fisheries Policy, it maintains equal access to waters and resources in all Union waters.
I presume therefore that the Deputy’s query regarding fishing rights refers to the recent Supreme Court judgment related to fishing by Northern Ireland vessels within the 0-6 nautical mile zone of the territorial waters of the State.
In light of the judgment, delivered on 27 October 2016, all fishing by Northern Irish fishing vessels in the 0-6 nautical mile zone of the territorial waters of the State relying on the Voisinage arrangements is unlawful.
It is important to note that the Supreme Court did not find that the Voisinage arrangements were unlawful but that, as it stands, there is insufficient legal provision for them.
Fishing activities which have a legal basis are not affected, such as those reliant on the access arrangements to Ireland’s 6-12 nautical mile zone set out in Regulation (EU) No. 1380/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council.
I have notified the Northern Ireland Minister of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs, Michelle McIlveen MLA, and my Department is remaining in close contact with the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs in Northern Ireland on the issue.
My Department also is working closely with the Attorney General’s Office in examining the Supreme Court judgment, with a view to finding an urgent way forward on the matter.