BREAKING: Greencastle and Rathmullen to become 'designated ports'
The Minister for the Agriculture, Food and the Marine Charlie McConalogue has announced that Greencastle, Burtonport, Rathmullen, Ros a Mhíl (Galway) and Howth will become "designated ports" for Northern Ireland-registered fishing vessels.
The designation will come into effect on February 1, 2021 and will apply to vessels under 15 metres, landing non-quota species.
The fishermen seeking to land at the designated ports, which previously included Killybegs (Donegal) and Castletownbere (Cork), will have to give notice. They will also only be allowed to land between 2.00pm and 8.00pm on any given day. They will, however, be able to land at any time, under force majeure, should any emergency arise.
Speaking to Donegal Live, Eddie Kelly who manages the Malin Head Fisherman's Co-op and had previously voiced fears about the safety of Inishowen fishermen being left with no option but to steam to Killybegs, said: "The new designations, particularly of Greencastle Harbour, is light at the end of the tunnel, in the short term. However, there is a bigger picture out there as well.
"It is not ideal but, in the short term, it means the Northern Ireland-registered vessels can stay in business and they can come into a safe harbour. Also, if they have a breakdown, they can enter port, under force majeure, outside the 2.00pm to 8.00pm hours.
"As far as Greencastle Harbour is concerned, it is perfect because it means, that boats over 15 metres will not be able to land into Greencastle and use Ireland as a stepping-stone for entry to the EU. That will keep the big fishermen happy, as it keeps the big mussel dredgers out. The new designations also keep the inshore fishermen happy," said Mr Kelly.
Minister McConalogue said: "I have decided to designate five additional Irish ports for UK-registered Northern Ireland vessel landings for both Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) and North East Atlantic Fisheries Commission (NEAFC) purposes. The five new ports designated are Ros a Mhíl, Howth, Greencastle, Rathmullen and Burtonport and join Killybegs and Castletownbere which continue to be designated for landings from vessels of any third country origin.
"I am working to make sure the necessary notifications and requirements are in place to have these ports operational from Monday, 1 February 2021. Under the new designations Ros a Mhíl and Howth will be able to accommodate landings of demersal fish from vessels under 24 metres and will operate Monday to Friday from 10am to 10pm.
"Greencastle, Rathmullen and Burtonport will be designated for non-quota species landings from vessels under 18 metres and will operate from 2pm to 8pm from Monday to Friday.
"From January 1, 2021, the United Kingdom is a third country and subject to IUU legislation and North East Atlantic Fisheries Commission NEAFC requirements. This means that any UK, including Northern Ireland, registered vessels must comply with third country landing requirements when landing in the EU, including Irish ports and is a direct result of Brexit and included in the Protocol on Ireland / Northern Ireland. Up until a conclusion of an agreement on the future relationship between the UK and the EU on Christmas Eve, it remained unclear whether Northern Ireland vessels that had access to Irish waters would continue to do so," said Minister McConalogue.
Minister McConalogue added that this was an important decision which would allow fishers in small vessels to continue their livelihoods in a safe manner”.
He said: “Following Brexit, it is important now more than ever, to support our fishers and fishing communities and to do all we can do help them continue their livelihoods”.
"Any UK Northern Ireland registered boats landing into any of the seven Irish ports will have to comply with additional documentary and procedural requirements than before Brexit. Designation of ports is within the State’s authority, but all requirements and protocols are subject to EU and international law and must be strictly adhered to to gain entry to ports.
"I thank the Sea Fisheries Protection Agency (SFPA) for its work to putting in place the arrangements necessary to provide for these additional port designations and I am glad that the outcome will mean that many of those fishers who were unable to operate following the outcome of Brexit will have now have the capacity to access a number of extra ports," concluded Minister McConalogue.
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