Tuesday, 16 April 2019
Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine
Under EU regulations, vessels from a non-EU country may only land fish at a limited number of ‘designated’ ports. This is to aid control and compliance and to deter illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing activity. There are currently two Irish ports that have been designated for landings by vessels from a third country - Killybegs in Donegal and Castletownbere in Cork.
When the UK formally becomes a third country and the Common Fisheries Policy no longer applies to it, UK-registered vessels will be restricted to landing fish at those two ports. The vast majority (over 90%) of current UK fish landings into Ireland are to those ports.
However, if, as I very much hope will be the case, the Withdrawal Agreement is concluded, a transition period will apply where there will be no change to current practices for Irish or UK vessels at least until the end of 2020.
If, in the worst case scenario, where no agreement is reached and there is a disorderly Brexit, then, in that scenario, UK-flagged vessels wishing to land into Ireland would be restricted to landing in the two designated ports from that date.
The Sea Fisheries Protection Authority is already facing a very significant increase in its regulatory responsibilities to deal with the potential implications of Brexit and its primary focus is ensuring that it is prepared to meet those to mitigate as far as possible the effects of Brexit on Irish registered vessels and Irish processors.
The position regarding the possible designation of additional ports for third country landings will be kept under review, in consultation with the SFPA, in the coming months in the context of unfolding developments regarding Brexit and available resources.