While the UK government has announced that the uplift in quotas gained following the UK’s departure from the European Union is being shared out between England and the devolved administrations in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, not everyone is happy with the outcome.
‘The Westminster Government confirmed that Northern Ireland did in fact have something they wanted; additional fishing quota gained from the EU following the UK’s departure from the EU,’ said Alan McCulla, CEO at Anglo-North Irish Fish Producers Organisation.
‘As feared, Westminster has plundered the Northern Ireland fishing industry’s Brexit dividend.’
He commented that Northern Ireland’s fishing industry representatives have pursued a fair and reasonable approach, calling on London to apportion the new quota across the UK on the basis of a pre-existing quota sharing arrangement.
He stated that Northern Ireland’s share of pre-Brexit UK quotas is 9% and the local industry had simply asked for 9% of the new quota, which the industry here had valued at almost £20 million per annum.
‘However, even a 9% share of the new quota proved irresistible to Westminster and today London confirmed they would reduce that share by almost one third,’ he said.
According to Defra, since becoming an independent coastal state, the UK has gained an uplift in fishing quota estimated to be worth around £146m, to be delivered over the next five years.
Defra states that this is equivalent to 25% of the value of the EU’s average annual historic catch in UK waters, with the majority of this quota – 15% of the EU’s historic catch in UK waters – to be transferred this year and distributed across the four nations of the UK.
‘The London Government’s spin that the Brexit fisheries boost is distributed across the UK maybe true, but the fact is that distribution has been rigged to favour some areas more than others,’ Alan McCulla said.
‘The Conservative Party’s 2019 Manifesto promised a full Brexit dividend for Northern Ireland. Actions clearly speak louder than words and the Government has failed to deliver on that commitment.’