3,000 jobs in fishing industry could be at risk within months of no-deal Brexit

More than 3,000 jobs in the Irish fishing industry could be on the line within months of a no deal Brexit, it has been warned.

3,000 jobs in fishing industry could be at risk within months of no-deal Brexit

More than 3,000 jobs in the Irish fishing industry could be on the line within months of a no-deal Brexit, it has been warned.

And the Killybegs Fishermen’s Organisation said an agreement needs to be put in place urgently in relation to fishing rights to prevent chaos on the high seas if the UK crashes out of the EU without a deal at the end of October.

KFO chief executive Sean O’Donoghue said if a no-deal Brexit takes place and no arrangement has been made in relation to the 3,500kms border at sea, it could, in the long-term be catastrophic for the fishing industry here.

“We could lose half our value of our seafood industry which is worth €1.25bn and we could lose 3,000 to 4,000 jobs if this was long term,” he said.

Mr O’Donoghue who had detailed discussions with the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier said in the event of a no-deal Brexit, fisheries will be immediately affected.

He said there was a deep appreciation by Mr Barnier and his team of the major issues facing the fishing industry in both a deal and no-deal scenario, but an arrangement now needed to be put in place to cover fishing rights after October 31 next.

Mr Barnier, he said, understands the complexities of the dynamics of the fishery industry and they also discussed the “falling off the cliff no-deal scenario”.

Mr Donoghue said his members want an understanding between UK and Irish (EU) fishermen that they can continue to legally fish in each other's waters until a formal agreement is reached in event of a no-deal Brexit.

“Fisheries will be immediately affected on November 1. We are awaiting a response from the UK we need even a verbal commitment in relation to the fishing rights of Irish and UK fishermen,’ he said.

He added: “Otherwise, you will have flashpoints at sea and blockades in ports. Without an arrangement, this will be chaos of the highest order. We need an arrangement, a gentleman’s agreement between both sides that the status quo remains," he said.

He said the UK previously indicated that fishing rights could continue to the end of the year but Irish fishermen now need a commitment in relation to fishing rights until a formal agreement is put in place.

Last year’s blockade in the English Channel between British and French fishermen on the issue of scallops “would be in the ha’penny place” compared to the clashes over Irish and UK fishing rights if an agreement is not put in place, he said.

It would be an “ absolute disaster” not just on the fishing side if things, he said, but nothing would move in the channel or in to French ports.

In the event of a no-deal Brexit there will have to be “substantial” financial aid for the fishing industry, Mr O’Donoghue said.

The indications are that there will be financial aid, but fishermen would prefer to continue doing what they have done for years, added Mr Donoghue.

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