I am pleased the Minister, Deputy Creed, is in the Chamber because many of the issues I will be raising are technical and only he will fully understand them. There is serious concern in the fisheries sector among processors, producers, exporters and those involved in ancillary services regarding the Department's plans post 29 March 2019. It will be said that this is hypothetical, but we are only two months from that date. I am sure plans are in place, particularly in light of the votes in Westminster last night. We do not want this situation and I know the Minister does not want it. We would have preferred if the deal on offer had been accepted but we must live in the real world. I would like to know what is involved in regard to the proposed amendment of EU Regulation 508/2014, which provides for the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund. I am opposed, and I hope the Minister is too, to the transfer of capital from this fund to provide for emergency funding. There is not sufficient funds there to do that. Any funds for emergency should be additional funding.
I welcome the proposal for a regulation amending EU Regulation 2017/2403 of the European Parliament and of the Council, which makes provision for vessels fishing in UK waters. Has the Minister had discussions with his EU counterparts or his UK counterpart on these proposals? While the proposal is welcome, the arrangement has to be reciprocal. In addition, the producers are uncertain about what will happen after 29 March. I understand emergency measures will be put in place to allow for continuity until the end of this year. Can the Minister confirm that this was agreed at the December Agriculture and Fisheries Council on TACs and quotas? There is so much fear around Brexit. The Minister will shortly be allocating 100% of the mackerel quota to the vessels. I do not know if that is a good sign or not because the allocation is normally 80% or 85%. My fear is that unless there is clarity, this will be front-loaded and that is not good management. It is better if the catching sector can land over a longer period and thus ensure greater prices. Front-loading is worrying. There has to be clarity and I hope the Minister can provide it today and also set out what other plans are in place in the event of a crash on 29 March?
On the Brexit contingency action plan, which was launched on 19 December, as far as I can see there is no reference in it to fisheries. This sends out the wrong signal. It is no wonder the sector is edgy about the preparations and state of readiness on the part of the Government. I await the Minister's response in this regard and would welcome his views on the provision of emergency funding other than through extraction from the EMFF because that funding is required for other measures. To do that would be only a cosmetic exercise by the European Commission.