We do not know. From the media, we hear that the UK Prime Minister is looking for an 80% increase, but that 80% is of the 60% what will be referred to as the foreign vessels are now catching. In my view that would be 48%. Adding that in, that would be an 88% total. That would only leave 12% of fish in the UK waters for the European fleet. Those figures are frightening and staggering. No industry could sustain a wallop like that on top of the boats that would be displaced into other areas looking for fish. I am joined today by an operator of a vessel for the past 30 years. He might join the discussion shortly. I do not want to put any pressure on him; it is his first day in here. Our organisation's chairman, Damien Turner, is now noticing boats that we have not seen in Irish waters previously. These are new boats, displaced boats, coming in to try to catch fish, resulting in added competition.
I would describe it as follows. If somebody cutting silage got to a field before somebody else, there would not me much grass left for the second person. The first one to arrive will take the fish and the next fellow coming along will be looking for those fish. It is that simple.
With the legal entitlements reduced so dramatically, a significant reduction in the fleets will be needed. As Mr. O'Donoghue said, we look for a fair share of the fish coming back. I will use the Porcupine functional unit for nephrops as an example. Four countries have entitlements there. Spain has 795 tonnes; France has 498 tonnes; the UK has 387 tonnes; and we have the vast bulk of the share which is 957 tonnes. We normally look for swaps because it is such an important fishery to our fishermen. It sustains many vessels and is a prized fishery. When the UK leaves, how much of the 387 tonnes will we get? Will it be divided in proportion?
When we joined the EU, it was to allow boats to come into our waters with a traditional right, but they did not own the fish. They had a traditional right to come in and catch fish. I would hate to see that changed now. That right is copper-fastened. They could use that right as a tradeable commodity without even having to catch anything. They could use that to go back to the UK and say, "I have 1,000 tonnes of monkfish in Irish waters, but I would like to catch it in your waters." They could trade that, and we would have no skin in the game per se. As Mr. O'Donoghue said, if there is a no-deal Brexit we need to go back and look at all these aspects. Before we joined the EU, they were our fishing waters. They had a traditional right here, but in my view, they did not have a traditional right to claim the fish. That is how the negotiations should go forward. I hope I have explained the fears we have.
The Senator asked about the devastation to our coastal communities. I will give a story from experience. I started fishing with my father, Danny Murphy from Hare Island. I left school aged 18 and went fishing in a small half-deck 27 ft. vessel. We targeted what I was told were aristocracy fish, lobsters, crabs, spider crabs and shrimps - the expensive stuff. We did it fairly well and made a good living out of it. During the wintertime we took in our pots and protected them, leaving us free. We normally spent the winter repairing gear and getting it ready. If I was lucky enough, I might get a berth in one of the 30 trawlers out of Baltimore, but it would take a month to get to get my name in to get the berth on the boat. However, there are no boats in Baltimore now. Only one or two families have managed to keep that going. That was the sacrifice made in the past.
If that happens again, places like Ballycotton could be wiped out and even Union Hall could suffer greatly. These are jobs in the local community that will not be replaced by anything else anytime soon. That will mean fewer mechanics in the garages, fewer children in the schools with a loss of teachers and more shop closures. It would be an annihilation of our coastal communities, towns and villages. That is not something that might happen; it has already happened. That could be the final death knell. About 1,000 fishermen are fishing in the Cork region up as far as Dunmore. BIM has advised that each of those jobs lost will cost five more ashore. The figures are stark.
We do not know, but we have great fears. We should definitely protect the goose that lays the golden egg, which is our fishing grounds. We cannot damage the biologically sensitive area where the fish come to spawn, as can be seen in the maps not from me but from the Marine Institute. They show the value of the Irish fishing grounds not just to our fishing fleet and those visiting. Those fish travel and that is why we are so adamant that the UK cannot just grab those fish because they are in its waters when it wants to catch them. They come to our waters to spawn and if they are not spawning, they will not be in UK waters.
That is our argument and I am sure Mr. O'Donoghue agrees with me because he has been to the forefront on this. He is negotiating on both sides of the fence and bringing eight other countries together to try to reason with the people on the other side. It is all about linking the trade. If we break that linkage, we are doomed. Mr. O'Donoghue discovered that and he has been at it for 30 years. As soon as Brexit became a reality, he knew that this was the only way we could protect ourselves.