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Ireland calls UK withdrawal from fisheries agreement 'unhelpful and unwelcome'

The announcement will cause concern for Irish and other EU fishing industries.

A trawler bringing in its catch at Eyemouth harbour, in the Scottish Borders.
A trawler bringing in its catch at Eyemouth harbour, in the Scottish Borders.
Image: David Cheskin

IRELAND HAS CALLED the UK’s announcement to leave an international fisheries agreement ‘unwelcome and unhelpful’.

The London Fisheries Convention, a pact which was formed in 1964, allows other EU vessels to fish between 6-12 nautical miles within each other’s shores.

It also allows an agreement called voisinage, where neighbouring countries can fish in the 0-6 nautical miles off their shores.

It had been hinted before that the UK would withdraw from the agreement, but making the announcement while Brexit talks are ongoing, could anger EU officials and cause concern for those who are hoping for a ‘soft’ Brexit.

Environment secretary Michael Gove officially announced the decision today and said it would help “take back control” of fishing access to UK waters.

The Scottish government backed the exit, saying it had pressed for the move “for some time”.

General Election 2017 Source: Steve Parsons/PA Images

In his statement today, Minister for Agriculture Food and Marine Michael Creed said that the move was premature:

Today’s announcement by the UK government is unwelcome and unhelpful.
It is a part of Brexit and will be considered by the EU 27 members and the Barnier team when the negotiations commence.

The UK’s environment, food and rural affairs secretary George Eustice told to Sky News that although overseas vessels caught just over 10,000 tonnes of fish in the 6-12 nautical mile zone that the deal concerns, British vessels catch a relatively small amount in EU waters.

“We actually catch very very little fish in the 6-12 mile zone of other European countries and what we do, it’s almost entirely in Ireland and it’s a very small amount.”

He said that out to 200 nautical miles, access for foreign vessels is for up to 700,000 tonnes of fish; “there’s a huge imbalance here, because we only fish about 150,000 tonnes in other people’s waters.”

The UK’s withdrawal from the convention will cause concern for EU member states that fish off the UK’s shores, and could cause an influx of boats to Irish coasts instead.

Read: Could Brexit make Ireland’s change to Sea Fisheries rules redundant?

Read: The government wants to open up Ireland’s exclusive fishing boundaries – and Senators aren’t happy

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