I propose to take Questions Nos. 1434 to 1436, inclusive, together.
Both my officials and I have had intensive discussions with the European Commission, other relevant Member States and stakeholders regarding the potential negative impact of a disorderly or no- deal Brexit on the Irish fishing industry and the wider seafood sector as whole. These discussions intensified in recent months and were based on preparatory work already done.
I have met with the Irish Fishing Industry regularly, some ten times, since 23rd June 2016 with the main focus on Brexit along with other meetings in which Brexit was also on the agenda. My most recent meeting was on 5th September and there will be Brexit information Seminars on the 10th of September in Dublin, the 27th of September in Wexford and the 30th of September in Cork.
The key issues in a no-deal situation which I have stressed in all discussions are the potential loss of access for Irish and other EU vessels to the UK fishing zone, the need to ensure ongoing protection of fish stocks in the waters around Ireland from a subsequent increase in fishing activity and potential supports for the seafood sector to meet the challenges they may face. It is also important to be aware that, in such a no-deal situation, the EU and Ireland could also face a loss of quota share.
Throughout the discussions, I emphasised the necessity for a co-ordinated European response to ensure that there would be proportionate and equitable use of mitigation measures for the fishing fleet overseen by the Commission.
The outcome of these discussions can be seen in the EU Brexit Contingency plan that was published on 10th April. This highlights fisheries as one of the most immediately critical issues facing the EU in a no-deal Brexit. We now have identified and agreed co-ordinated and fully prepared measures that will be immediately available to address a no-deal Brexit situation on 31st October, if the UK were to decide to deny EU vessels access to UK waters. As I have stated previously, I am seeking additional EU funds to support these mitigation measure if they become necessary. Such financial discussions are still ongoing and there are many variables at play but I can assure the Deputy that the seafood sector will, along with agriculture be a key priority for this Government.