Thursday, 21 January 2021

Questions (494)

Brendan Howlin


494. Deputy Brendan Howlin asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if he plans to designate additional ports to land fishing vessels from Northern Ireland, given recent difficulties in relation to same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3216/21]

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Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

Following consultation with the Sea Fisheries Protection Authority, I have decided to designate five additional Irish ports, for both Illegal, Unregulated and Unreported (IUU) legislation and North East Atlantic Fisheries Commission (NEAFC) purposes, to accept UK registered-Northern Ireland vessel landings.

The five new ports designated are Ros a Mhíl, Howth, Greencastle, Rathmullen and Burtonport for UK registered Northern Ireland vessels and join Killybegs and Castletownbere which continue to be designated for landings from vessels of any third country origin. Under the new designations, Ros a Mhíl and Howth will be able to accommodate landings of demersal stocks from vessels under 26 metres and will operate Monday to Friday from 10am to 10pm. Greencastle, Rathmullen and Burtonport will be designated for non-quota species landings from vessels under 18 metres and will operate from 2pm to 8pm from Monday to Friday.

From 1st January 2021, the United Kingdom is a third country and subject to IUU legislation and NEAFC requirements. This means that any UK registered vessel, including any Northern Ireland registered vessel, must comply with third country landing requirements when landing in the EU, including Irish ports. This is a direct result of Brexit and included in the Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland. Up until the conclusion of EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement on Christmas Eve, it remained unclear whether Northern Ireland vessels that had access to Irish waters would continue to have such access.

The designation of extra Irish ports for landings by Northern Ireland vessels is an important decision, which will allow fishers in small vessels to continue their livelihoods following Brexit. It is important now more than ever, to support our fishers and fishing communities and to do all we can do help them continue their livelihoods. I am working to make sure the necessary notifications and requirements are in place to have these ports operational from 1st February 2021.

Any UK-Northern Ireland registered boats landing into any of the seven Irish ports will have to comply with additional documentary and procedural requirements as a result of Brexit. Designation of ports is within the State’s authority, but all requirements and protocols are subject to EU and international law and must be strictly adhered to to gain entry to ports.