Wednesday, 20 May 2020
Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine
859. To ask the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the steps being taken to ensure Irish fish and seafood product is able to reach continental EU markets despite reports (details supplied) that some wholesalers and retailers in France are being pressured not to stock product from non-domestic sources; and if he has made representations to his French counterparts and the European Commission to ensure the proper functioning of the single market and that Irish product is not being barred from access to markets. [5913/20]
I am very aware of the adverse impacts the COVID-19 Pandemic on our fishing industry, particularly with regard to the disruption of our traditional markets in Europe and Asia. Ireland's top five export partners for seafood are France, the UK, Spain, Italy and China - all of whom have been severely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. While trade to China has begun to reopen and there is demand from the Spanish market in particular and to a much lower degree from the French market, it is clear that this is far below normal levels and the market situation overall remains challenging.
It has been brought to my attention that there are reports circulating that some wholesalers and retailers in France are being pressured not to stock product from non-domestic sources. The Irish Embassy in Paris is aware of these concerns and continues to monitor this situation closely. It is important to note that the closure of the French Food service sector, due to the COVID-19 Pandemic, has greatly reduced demand for fish in France. It is expected that the easing of some of the French COVID-19 measures from 11 May will lead to the phased re-opening of the food sector in France but it is still unclear as to when restaurants will reopen for business.
On a more general note, I have stressed the importance of maintaining the Single Market to the EU Commissioners for Agriculture and Fisheries and to my counterparts in other Member States.
Of course, there is a small minority who have called for action that would subvert the single market. I am sure the Deputy would agree that any such action would be very much against the best interests of Irish farmers and fishers.