Wednesday, 18 January 2017
Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine
226. To ask the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine his views on the future of Ireland's fishing functions in a post-Brexit, newly configurated EU context; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2190/17]
227. To ask the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the position of his Department with regard to the fisheries industry in a post-Brexit context; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2191/17]
I propose to take Questions Nos. 226 and 227 together.
The outcome of the UK Brexit referendum last year is obviously foremost in our minds and in Government it is very much a priority. It poses enormous challenges for the Irish agri-food sector as a whole including the fisheries sector. However, potentially, depending on what the UK seeks to do once they trigger Article 50 later this year, there are additional and unique challenges for our fishing industry.
Fish stocks are a shared resource managed under the Common Fisheries Policy of the European Union. Nearly all of the main commercial stocks upon which the Irish fisheries sector is reliant are shared to some degree with the UK. In addition, many of our traditional fishing grounds lie within UK waters. Any change to the existing situation could have very serious negative consequences for our fleets.
My Department, together with its agencies and stakeholders, has been considering all of the potential impacts, looking at the areas where the greatest risks will arise and on which we will need to focus when the negotiations begin. Ensuring that our fishing interests are reflected in the overall EU negotiating position will be a key priority.
I have established a dedicated Brexit unit in my Department, and a consultative committee of stakeholders has been convened in order to ensure a full exchange of information as negotiations proceed. I have also organised a dedicated Dialogue on Sea Fisheries for the 1stof February to enable stake holders to meet and discuss the impact of Brexit on the fishing industry.
I will remain in close contact with fisheries stakeholders as the issues develop and work with them and my fellow fisheries Ministers in the EU to ensure that we are all fully prepared for what are likely to be extremely complex negotiations.