Irish fishermen still in the dark over Brexit

Sinn Féin MEP Liadh Ní Riada said Irish fishermen continue to be none the wiser over the possible impact of Brexit on their livelihoods.

The Ireland South MEP was speaking after attending a meeting in the European Parliament on the future of fisheries post-Brexit.

Organised by the European Fisheries Alliance (EUFA), the meeting heard from a panel of experts on various aspects of fisheries management.

“There is no doubt the EUFA managed to organise an impressive panel of people from scientific, environmental and fisheries backgrounds for today’s meeting,” she said.

“However, the outcome was the same thing we have been hearing about Brexit since day one. What is going to happen? We just don’t know.

“This is no criticism of the EUFA or the panel, it was a very informative meeting and discussions like this are important but it is highly illustrative of the nature of Brexit and the impact it will have on all industries that even those most in the know simply don’t know what will happen.

“The most important thing about fish stocks is that they remain sustainable. However, given the lack of any detailed discussions or documents about Britain’s plans for fisheries post-Brexit the panel felt that all we could do is hope Britain does the right thing and adopts sustainability regulations post-Brexit.

“The fact is that fish are not bound by borders. Stocks are not static; spawning areas, nurseries and stocks are all constantly on the move. This means that unsustainable fishing practices post-Brexit, even if they are limited to British waters, can still have a devastating effect on stocks elsewhere, nowhere more so than in Ireland.

“It has already been estimated that Brexit could see the Irish fishing industry lose up to 600 vessels. That’s 600 vessels that provide families with their livelihoods and keep communities going.

“And yet, almost a year and a half after the Brexit referendum, Irish fishermen are still none the wiser as to what the future holds for them.

“The Irish and British Government’s, along with the EU, need to take their heads out of the sand on this issue and provide some sort of assurance or guidance to Irish fishermen on what lies ahead.”