Wednesday, 10 February 2021

Questions (1031)

Thomas Pringle


1031. Deputy Thomas Pringle asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if, with the voisinage agreement in place to allow fishing vessels from Northern Ireland to operate in Ireland's waters, there is a mechanism in place to stop UK vessels registering as vessels in Northern Ireland to access Irish waters; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7274/21]

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Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

The Voisinage arrangements between Ireland and Northern Ireland provide for reciprocal fishing access, allowing Irish registered vessels to fish in the 0-6nm zone in Northern Ireland and NI vessels to fish in the 0-6nm zone of Ireland.

The European Commission’s UK Task Force has advised that, under the Trade and Cooperation Agreement between the EU and UK, the Voisinage arrangements are valid. The European Commission has further advised that, because of the third country status of the UK (and NI), fishing in the 0-6nm zone of Ireland is now covered by the Sustainable Management of External Fishing Fleets Regulation (Regulation 2017/2403). Therefore, eligible NI vessels need to obtain a fishing authorisation in accordance with Article 34 of the SMEFF Regulation.

My Department is in contact with the European Commission regarding the verification of Northern Ireland vessels seeking authorisation to fish in the 0-6nm zone of Ireland under the Voisinage arrangements in order to ensure such vessels are eligible under Irish legislation.

Under section 10(2) of the Sea-Fisheries and Maritime Jurisdiction Act 2006, as amended by the Sea-Fisheries (Amendment) Act 2019, persons on board vessels owned and operated in Northern Ireland are permitted to fish in the waters within 0 - 6 nm of the baseline. This access is conditional on the persons and vessels complying with any obligation which would apply in the same circumstances to an Irish sea-fishing boat.