Over the past two years, I have had regular, positive meetings with Commissioner Vella on the potential implications for the fisheries sector arising from Brexit, most recently on the margins of the December Fisheries Council. I am due to meet with the Commissioner again on the 18th of this month specifically on preparedness issues in the worst case scenario of a no deal Brexit.
My priority is to maintain existing levels of access to waters and resources. If the withdrawal deal goes through there will be no changes to the status quo for at least two years. 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 for the first year after the transition period.
In the event of a disorderly departure by the UK on the 29th of March existing reciprocal arrangements could be endangered.
The Commission is, in cooperation with the Member States, proposing measures that would allow ongoing reciprocal access, but the outcome will depend on the position of the UK which is, as yet, unclear.
If such reciprocal access does not materialise, the impact on Ireland's fishing fleet will be significant.
My Department is working closely with other Member States and the Commission on these matters, and I will be meeting Commissioner Vella very shortly to discuss the need for supports for the Irish fishing sector in the event of a disorderly Brexit.