Fishing – Where Will the Battle Lines be Drawn in the Case of a ‘No Deal’

In the case of a no deal Brexit the battle lines over fishery access will be wide ranging. Perhaps the most intense focus of contention will be The Channel and the French fishing industry. French fishermen have shown a willingness to be militant and block access to Channel ferry ports which would be vital for freight movement both from and into the EU. Both sides the UK and EU have as much to lose from tension here.

Close to home it’s equally contentious. Vessels from the United Kingdom, the Isle of Man and the Republic of Ireland currently share waters.

The article (link below) sets out the impact on fishermen from Donegal who have traditionally fished waters off Rockall and the Hebrides. Arguably the fishing community at Greencastle at the mouth of Loch Foyle are almost in what would be UK waters as soon as they leave port. These are indigenous fishing communities not super trawlers that have shared waters with Scottish colleagues for decades, even centuries. So what now does Ireland reactivate its claim, never dropped, to Rockall – its an area already disputed by several States:https://www.irishtimes.com/…/irish-fishing-industry…

The Irish government has ‘played with a straight bat’ over commonality of access for 26 and 6 County vessels in Irish waters. When the Voisinage Agreement was deemed to be a ‘gentlemen’s agreement’ about two and a half years ago the Irish government enacted legislation to solidify it. When a case was brought against N Irish fishermen before the law change the Irish Courts acted with discretion saying two N Irish skippers;

After the two captains entered guilty pleas, the Drogheda judge said the men were of “absolute integrity” and did not deserve a conviction.

Now ‘Voisinage’ may be put on the back burner just as will access to waters traditionally fished for decades in the South Central Irish Sea and North of Donegal.

https://www.thejournal.ie/northern-irish-boats-voisinage…/

The most contentious areas however are likely to be both Carlingford Lough and Lough Foyle which have been a source of contention between the United Kingdom and Ireland since ‘The Free State’ was established. Both areas are managed by cross border agencies as the catchment area spans the border (see pic).

This Dail debate (link below) gives an insight into the complexities of both the ‘Voisinage Agreement’ and the disputes over the Lochs of Foyle and Carlingford.

https://publications.parliament.uk/…/cmniaf/878/87806.htm

Bernard Moffatt

Assistant General Secretary Celtic League (15th December 2020)

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