“Important step forward” Brexit transition agreement welcomed by Irish catchers
Killybegs Fishermen’s Organisation (KFO) has approved the agreement in principle on the Brexit transition period that was announced earlier this week by the European Union's chief negotiator, Michel Barnier, and David Davis, the U.K. secretary of state for exiting the European Union.
In a statement, the KFO said that like its European Fisheries Alliance (EUFA) colleagues, the organization has at all times recognized that its members need time and predictability to make appropriate plans for the future, and that a transition period that maintains relative stability will ensure the continued sustainability of stocks and economic competitiveness for the E.U. and U.K. fishing industries while an acceptable long-term deal is negotiated.
“This announcement on the transition period is an important step forward. It gives our fleet certainty until the end of 2020 and allows time to negotiate a post-Brexit fisheries relationship, which is in the interest of both sides. We have always maintained that it is vital to maintain existing access to waters and resources and to conduct negotiations in the context of wider trade relations," KFO Chief Executive Seán O’Donoghue said. “We now stand ready to support the European Commission and the EU27 during the next phase of negotiations on the future framework. Maintaining reciprocal access to waters and resources should be at the heart of the post-Brexit relationship in fisheries given the historic ties and inextricable links between our countries and industries.”
O’Donoghue added that it was now imperative for Ireland Minister for Agriculture Food and Marine Michael Creed to build on the progress to date by “fighting tooth and nail” to ensure that the commitments set out in the draft text are retained in the final document, to be agreed at European Council by the end of this month.
“We cannot afford to concede a single inch as these extremely important negotiations reach a finale,” he said.
As well as agreeing on a transition period to last from 29 March, 2019, to December 2020, Barnier and Davis determined that the United Kingdom would be part of the annual fishing negotiations taking place at the end of this year for 2019, meaning its share of the total catch cannot be changed. The country will be negotiating fishing opportunities as an independent coastal state thereafter.
EUFA is a coalition of European fishing fleets directly impacted by Brexit. Members include national organizations from Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Ireland, the Netherlands, Poland, Spain and Sweden. The alliance accounts for more than 18,000 fishermen and 3,500 vessels, with an annual turnover EUR 20.7 billion (USD 25.4 billion).