The UK cannot expect to retain the privileges of membership while blocking its erstwhile European colleagues from its waters, and doubling its catch, according to Killybegs Fishermen’s Organisation (KFO) CEO Seán O’Donoghue, who said it would be rank hypocrisy for the UK to expect to slam the door and keep the gains it enjoyed while part of the EU.
He commented that the complexity of moulding Britain’s future relationship with the EU is nowhere more evident than in fisheries, and is adamant that the UK should no longer benefit from the additional fishing opportunities it was granted after joining the EEC in 1973, particularly when the total allowable catches and quotas were decided in the early eighties.
After the UK joined the European Union, it was compensated for potential losses of fishing opportunities in third country waters due to the extension of Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZ) in 1976 to 200 miles. This amounted to 26% increase in the volume of fishing opportunities covering seven species, which were added to the UK historical catches in establishing its final percentage share out known as relative stability.
Seán O’Donoghue said that these additional opportunities were duly taken out of the share of other member states.
‘When you leave a club, you relinquish the privileges that were afforded to you when you were a member. It’s a simple as that. It is crystal clear, the 26% increase in fishing opportunities which was granted by the EU to the UK should end with UK membership,’ he said.
‘With Britain now playing hardball on fisheries and fighting to double its catch, the EU negotiators must clearly spell out that the starting point in any fisheries negotiations has to exclude any additional catches it obtained, as part of the EU. On top of this, the UK was also in receipt of another inducement in the shape of Hague Preferences which amounts to an additional increase in volume in certain stocks.
‘All four Irish producer organisations will be making that point to the Taoiseach, the Minister for Foreign Affairs and the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine when we meet to discuss the potential impact of Brexit on our industry,’ Seán O’Donoghue said.