Written answers

Tuesday, 25 May 2021

Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine

Fishing Industry

Photo of Johnny MythenJohnny Mythen (Wexford, Sinn Fein)
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562. To ask the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if he is putting mechanisms and plans in place to protect indigenous scallop fishers after the October Brexit deadline; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28194/21]

Photo of Charlie McConalogueCharlie McConalogue (Donegal, Fianna Fail)
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The rules for landings of Live Bivalve Molluscs (LBMs) into Great Britain are set down by the UK authorities. While exempt from Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated requirements, the Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) permission to directly-land fishery products does not include LBMs, a group which includes wild-caught scallops.

The UK Government announced on 11th March that it would postpone the introduction of the upcoming new UK import controls (including Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) requirements and controls) which had been scheduled for 1 April and 1 July to 1 October 2021 and 1 January 2022 respectively. It is important to note that these new changes to UK import controls are only postponed and not cancelled. The UK authorities confirmed on 1st April that import requirements for direct landings of LBMs, including scallops, are also being delayed until 1 October 2021.

From January until September, Irish vessels may land such products to NEAFC-designated UK ports subject to NEAFC requirements and controls. However, from 1st October 2021, direct landings by Irish vessels of such products, including scallops, to ports in Great Britain may not occur. After 1st October, Irish vessels may land such products to Northern Ireland ports subject to NEAFC controls, or to any EU port. Alternatively, such products may be exported to GB as consignments from an Irish approved food establishment, accompanied by the appropriate UK Health Certificate.

The United Kingdom position from 1st October, 2021 replicates the EU position regarding LBM landings by a Third Country vessel into the EU. The EU Commission has confirmed that the direct landing of LBMs, including scallops, from vessels flying a Third Country flag into EU Member State ports is not authorised under EU legislation.

In February 2021, I established a Seafood Sector Taskforce, including representatives of the fisheries cooperatives, Producer Organisations and the National Inshore Fisheries Forum, to examine the implications arising from the Trade and Cooperation Agreement agreed between the European Union and the UK for the Irish Fishing industry and coastal communities particularly dependent upon it. I have requested that the Taskforce recommend initiatives that could be taken to provide supports for development and restructuring so as to ensure a profitable and sustainable fishing fleet and to identify opportunities for jobs and economic activity in coastal communities dependent on fishing.

Additionally, I have asked the Taskforce to consider how all available funding streams could be used to address, to the extent possible, the initiatives identified and the State agencies to support those initiatives. I anticipate receiving an interim report from the Taskforce later this month addressing recommendations for a temporary fleet tie-up scheme to mitigate the short term impacts of quota cuts and a full report in the Summer with the full recommendations of the Taskforce. You will appreciate that I cannot pre-judge the recommendations of the Taskforce and how they might relate to any particular fishery.

Photo of Marian HarkinMarian Harkin (Sligo-Leitrim, Independent)
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563. To ask the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if the decision to weigh fish at the location they have been landed will be reconsidered given there are no facilities available to carry out same (details supplied); if his officials will discuss the matter with the fishing industry in order to find a workable solution; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28233/21]

Photo of Charlie McConalogueCharlie McConalogue (Donegal, Fianna Fail)
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Ireland has received a Commission Implementing Decision revoking the approval of the Irish control plan submitted for the weighing of fishery products in accordance with Article 61(1) of Council Regulation (EC) No 1224/2009.

It should be noted that the 2012 Control Plan, prior to its revocation, provided that the Irish authorities may have permitted fisheries products to be weighed by relevant operators after transport from the place of landing provided that they were transported to a destination on the territory of Ireland, as the Member State concerned.

The monitoring and control of fishing vessels within Ireland’s Exclusive Fisheries Zone are matters for the Irish control authorities. Under the Sea Fisheries and Maritime Jurisdiction Act, 2006, all operational issues of this nature are exclusively for the Sea Fisheries Protection Authority (SFPA) and the Naval Service. As Minister, I am expressly precluded from getting involved in operational matters such as this.

The Sea Fisheries Protection Authority (SFPA) will set out new procedures in relation to this changed position. The Authority has, I understand, already written to industry representatives to make them aware of the situation and also met with the Sea Fisheries Protection Consultative Committee, Industry Representatives and operators on the matter.

The Deputy’s queries as to the implications of the Commission’s revocation of the control plan are operational matters for the operators who have responsibility to weigh fish before transport and the SFPA as the control authority.


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