THE new Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Dara Calleary has met with the Irish fishing industry to hear at first hand their concerns over Brexit and Covid-19.
Leaders from four producer organisation, Irish South and East, Killybegs, Irish South and West and Irish Fish, along with the National Inshore Fisherman’s Forum and the Irish Fish Processors and Exporters Association, attended.
They outlined the serious long-term issues members would face should the UK demands for a greater share of fish stocks and restricted access to their fishing grounds be granted.
Difficult challenges that are arising for the industry because of weaker markets for fish with reduced prices for many species were also outlined in detail.
Mr Calleary said he made it clear he will be pressing for a fisheries agreement that upholds both existing quota shares and existing reciprocal access to UK waters.
He said he pledged to continue pressing for the maintenance of the linkage of fisheries to the overall economic partnership agreement as this will be central to a successful agreement.
“I assured the industry representatives of my commitment and that of the Government to work towards a fisheries agreement with the UK that protects their interests and ensures a long-term future for our coastal communities dependant on fisheries,” he said.
Regarding the current challenges facing the sector arising from the Covid-19 crisis, he said the Government’s clear intention is to provide supports that help to revitalise all areas in the economy including the seafood sector.
“I will be working across Government to devise measures to support jobs and communities over the coming period,” he said.
Mr Calleary was earlier invited to visit Castletownbere in West Cork to hear first-hand from the fishing sector about their concerns for the future.
Senator Tim Lombard, who issued the invitation during a Senate discussion, said there are major issues regarding the fishing industry, particularly in the south of the country.