We tried to warn you! EU accused of overfishing Irish waters as no deal Brexit fears mount

Brexit: No deal could bring 'conflict' in Irish fishing waters says expert

The Irish Wildlife Trust said it was “disappointed” at the decision of the EU Commission maritime affairs and fisheries. The criticism of the Brussels body comes as Ireland is bracing for a possible no deal Brexit in two weeks’ time. The UK and the EU remain locked in talks aimed at securing a trade deal after Boris Johnson and EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen agreed to “go the extra mile” when negotiations hit a brick wall.

Ireland’s Taoiseach Micheal Martin has said he remains hopeful a deal can be struck amid warnings from industry chiefs.

The Irish Road Haulage Association has predicted “catastrophic consequences” of new customs and imports controls at Irish Sea ports after Brexit.

And fishermen in Ireland are preparing for a possible “prawn war” with their British counterparts if a deal is not secured.

The Irish Wildlife Trust hit out at the EU’s decision to push ahead with its cod fishing policing in the Irish Sea and the Celtic Sea.

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The group claimed the policy goes directly against the advice of experts.

They tweeted: “We’re disappointed to learn today [Tuesday] that @EU_MARE are proposing continued overfishing of cod in the Irish Sea and the Celtic Sea – against the advice of scientists, against the #GreenNewDeal and against the commitment of the Common Fisheries Policy.”

The EU have proposed to continue existing safeguard measures to protect cod in Kattegat near Denmark to ensure recovery “to safe levels” – but no mention has been made to Irish waters where fears have mounted fisheries could be overrun in the event of a no deal Brexit.

The Commission has been contacted for comment. 

The EU’S Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) has long been unpopular with fishermen in the UK who see it as unbalanced.

Fisheries ministers from members states headed to Brussels on Tuesday for their annual meeting to discuss fishing opportunities for 2021.

Representatives of the EU27 are not expected to conclude their discussions until the outcome of Brexit trade talks has been decided.

The unpopular Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) has been the source of much criticism in recent years from scientists.

Environmentalists have warned that the policy is causing fish stocks in some European waters to be decimated.

Campaigners want the EU to set strict limits on the amounts of fish that can be caught in order to preserve species under threat.

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Our Fish, a group which works to end overfishing, is calling on the EU to step up to the plate to avoid sending “a very bad message” about how serious they are about the issue.

Rebecca Hubbard, the group’s program director, said if the Council meeting did not result in responsible fishing limits being set the EU would make clear “that it’s actually not very serious about ending this war on nature”.

The two-day Council meeting is set to conclude on Wednesday.

In October the European Commission, led by Ursula von der Leyen, presented its fishing proposals.

It will be up to fisheries minister to decide whether they will accept the proposals setting catch limits for fish stocks in the North Sea and the Atlantic from January 1.

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When it comes to fishing, passions are running high among Brexiteers whose campaign to leave the EU was partly built on the promise for the UK to “take back control” of its waters.

On Wednesday the UK and the EU appeared to have agreed on the so-called level playing field.

But both sides remain stuck on the “very difficult” issue of fisheries, reports suggested.

RTE reporter Tony Connelly said: “While both sides have a way to go, on the level playing field/state aid there is a landing zone in sight.

“On fisheries, both sides say that is “very difficult”.

EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen offered hope of a deal, but warned the path was narrow.

She conceded that the resolution of the difficulties over fishing may prove impossible.

But she indicated that progress has been made on measures to prevent either side unfairly competing with the other by cutting standards or using state subsidies.

The coming days will be “decisive” as the clock ticks down until the end of the month when the current arrangements between the two sides expire.

Mrs von der Leyen told MEPs that progress in the “level playing field” could mean the EU being allowed to act “autonomously” in retaliation if the UK flouts subsidy rules.

She said that “as things stand I cannot tell you whether there will be a deal or not”.

On the “level playing field” – the measures aimed at preventing unfair competition – there is a need for “robust mechanisms” governing state aid and standards.

She said: “On state aid, we have made progress based on common principles, guarantees of domestic enforcement and the possibility to autonomously remedy the situation when needed.

“On standards, we have agreed a strong mechanism of non-regression. That’s a big step forward.”

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