Thursday, 6 December 2018

Ceisteanna (52)

Hildegarde Naughton

Ceist:

52. Deputy Hildegarde Naughton asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the efforts being made to safeguard the fishing sector in the context of Brexit. [51195/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

Overall, Ireland’s and the EU27’s basic position has always been and remains to be to protect our fishing communities. While all parties would like higher quota shares, the way to achieve that is to grow the fish stocks through sustainable management for the benefit of all. Managing fisheries sustainably and fairly must be an integral and inseparable part of the overall future EU/UK relationship.

In recent months, I have continued to have positive, regular meetings with my European colleagues, especially those from the group of 8 Member States whose fisheries are most impacted by the UK’s withdrawal from the EU. I am also working closely with key stakeholders in the Irish fishing industry and am pleased at the level of unity on these key issues. The results of Ireland's engagement with the Barnier Task Force, are evident in the agreed EU position on fisheries.

The Government has introduced a range of measures to deal with the short-term impacts of Brexit. In terms of dealing with Competitiveness issues, my Department introduced a €150m low-cost loan scheme and increased funding under the Rural Development and Seafood Development Programmes in the 2017 Budget. In Budget 2018, I, along with my colleague, the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation, introduced a new €300m “Brexit Loan Scheme” to provide affordable, flexible financing to Irish businesses that are either currently impacted by Brexit or who will be in the future - at least 40% of which will be available to seafood businesses.

I have followed up these measures with further initiatives as part of Budget 2019, which contains a €78m Brexit package for farmers, fishermen, food SMEs and to cover additional costs in my Department.

If this withdrawal deal goes through, from a fisheries perspective, we have clarity that there will be no changes to the status quo on fisheries for the duration of the transition period. The transition period will last at least until the end of December 2020 but could be extended. Within this timeframe and within the context of the overall economic partnership, the EU and UK will work to establish a new fisheries agreement to be in place after transition.

As is set down in the draft Political Declaration, negotiations on fisheries will take place in the context of the overall future economic relationship between the EU and the United Kingdom. In other words, fisheries will not be dealt with in isolation.

I will continue to work closely with the Tánaiste, the Commission, relevant Member States and the fishing industry to ensure the best outcome for Irelands’ fishing communities.