Killybegs Fishermen’s Organisation has claimed the industry would be plagued by thousands of job loses if Irish boats are locked out of the UK’s fishing grounds. The totemic issue may result in the lose of more than 4,000 jobs because 30 percent of all fish landed in Ireland are caught in British waters. Unless a deal is struck, Irish trawlermen will not be allowed to operate in Britain’s coastal waters from January 1.
Sean O’Donoghue, a spokesman for the Killybegs Fishermen’s Organisation, said: “If we don’t secure a trade deal, which is looking more likely now, there will be chaos and mayhem.
“Irish boats will no longer be able to fish in British waters and vice versa. This will result in job losses of about 30 percent in the entire sector, which employs more than 14,000 people.”
Mr O’Donoghue warned that failing to strike up a UK-EU fisheries agreement could end in violent skirmishes, reminiscent of the so-called “Scallop Wars” that broke out between British and French trawlers off the coast of Normandy in 2018.
During the altercations, a British boat was petrol bombed off the French coast.
Irish fishing chief warns of violent clashes in event of no-deal Brexit
Irish prime minister Leo Varadkar
And British fishermen called for the Royal Navy to be deployed to protect them from the violence.
Mr O’Donoghue said: “We are anticipating there will be no trade deal. If Britain crashing out, we have a massive problem that will manifest intensely in fisheries first.
“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.
“We have already had a taste of what could happen.
Irish boats targeted mackerel and prawns are most likely to be affected in the event of a no-deal Brexit.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson
About 60 percent of all mackerel and 40 percent of prawns landed in Ireland are caught in British waters before mostly being exported to European markets.
Climate change is expected to drive stocks of mackerel out of Irish waters in search of colder waters further north.
Mackerel are likely to become more plentiful in British waters despite spawning in Irish waters, making the fish less assessable to Irish fishermen.
Relations between the UK and EU have become somewhat strained in recent weeks during an increasingly bitter battle over fishing rights and the so-called level-playing field that would keep Britain tied to many of the bloc’s rules.
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Negotiators David Frost and Michel Barnier in Brussels last March
Boris Johnson has warned he is ready to walk away from negotiations if Brussels continues to drag its feet.
The Prime Minister has sanctioned a now-or-never ultimatum that his lead negotiator David Frost will deliver during the fourth round of negotiations, which begin tomorrow.
Downing Street has decided it would be pointless to return for fresh trade talks after the autumn, or even after the transition period expires at the end of the year, because of the EU’s refusal to budge on its hardline stance.
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Mr Johnson has repeatedly claimed Britain must have full control of its fishing waters as an independent coastal state as part of any deal.
A source close to the negotiations said Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief negotiator, had rowed back on commitments originally made ahead of the trade talks.
The official said: “They clearly need to reconsider their position to avoid backsliding on the agreement made last autumn, and stop making demands incompatible with our status as an independent coastal state.”