Tuesday, 17 September 2019
Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine
492. To ask the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the steps which have been taken to protect the fishing industry here in the event of a no-deal Brexit; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37441/19]
493. To ask the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if specific funding will be available to the fishing sector here in the event of a no-deal Brexit; if this funding will be forthcoming from the EU, the State or a combination of both; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37442/19]
494. To ask the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if he has sought specific funding from the EU for the fishing industry here in the event of a no-deal Brexit; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37443/19]
I propose to take Questions Nos. 492 to 494, inclusive, together.
Both my officials and I have had intensive discussions with the European Commission, other relevant Member States and stakeholders regarding the potential negative impact of a disorderly or no-deal Brexit on the Irish fishing industry and the wider seafood sector as whole. These discussions intensified in recent months and were based on preparatory work already done.
I have met with the Irish Fishing Industry regularly since the 23rd June 2016, most recently on the 5th September. A Brexit Information Seminar was held on the 10th September in Dublin, and a further two are to be held on the 27th September in Wexford and the 30th September in Cork.
The key issues in a no-deal situation which I have stressed in all discussions are the potential loss of access for Irish and other EU vessels to the UK fishing zone, the need to ensure ongoing protection of fish stocks in the waters around Ireland from a subsequent increase in fishing activity and potential supports for the seafood sector to meet the challenges they may face. It is also important to be aware that, in a no-deal situation, the EU and Ireland could also face a loss of quota share.
Throughout the discussions, I emphasised the necessity for a co-ordinated European response to ensure that there would be proportionate and equitable use of mitigation measures for the fishing fleet overseen by the Commission.
The outcome of these discussions can be seen in the EU Brexit Contingency plan that was published on the 10th April. This highlights fisheries as one of the most immediately critical issues facing the EU in a no-deal Brexit. We now have identified and agreed co-ordinated and fully prepared measures that will be immediately available to address a no-deal Brexit situation on 31st October, if the UK were to decide to deny EU vessels access to UK waters. As I have stated previously, I am seeking additional EU funds to support these mitigation measures if they become necessary. Such financial discussions are still ongoing and I can assure the Deputy that the seafood sector will be a key priority for the Government in these discussions.