The impact of Brexit on Ireland's seafood sector, and the coastal communities dependent on it, is understandably a major concern for the sector. However, this impact would have been far greater had the Barnier Task Force agreed to UK demands, or had we been in a no-deal scenario which would have seen all EU vessels barred from UK waters and subsequent displacement into Ireland's fishing zone.
I can assure the Deputy that this Government intends to continue to keep the focus on the disproportionate quota reductions for Ireland and to use any opportunity available to seek constructive solutions that would help to alleviate this unacceptable position.
I have raised the matter of inequitable burden sharing at EU level - most recently at the May Agriculture and Fisheries Council - and in bilateral exchanges with other EU Member States, whenever suitable opportunties arise, and I will continue to do so.
I am pursuing every opportunity at EU level to increase the available quotas for our fishing fleet. I have previously stated that I am committed to doing all possible through the review of the CFP to secure additional quota where possible for Irish fishers. I will consider how Ireland will prepare for and participate actively and effectively in the review, including the interaction with stakeholders to prepare Ireland's case and identify priorities.
The impact of Brexit has been a major blow for the Irish fishing industry but I am convinced that this is a sustainable sector with a strong future. There are opportunties for growth if we invest in and add value to our seafood sector - and there is a strong commitment from the Government to do this. My objective is to work with the industry to grow the sector in the years ahead. Through the Seafood Sector Taskforce, I've brought all voices in the sector together to advise on how we can invest in the sector and I anticipate receiving the interim report from the Taskforce shortly.
Fishers also raised the issue of fisheries control. The monitoring and control of fishing vessels within Ireland’s Exclusive Fisheries Zone are matters for the Irish control authorities. Under the Sea Fisheries and Maritime Jurisdiction Act, 2006, all operational issues of this nature are exclusively for the Sea Fisheries Protection Authority (SFPA) and the Naval Service. As Minister, I am expressly precluded from getting involved in operational matters such as this.
I wish to assure the Deputy that this Government is committed to work with the seafood sector to adjust to the impact of Brexit and ensure a clear path for the growth of the sector in the years ahead.