Alliance Party Welcomes Fishing Benefits In The NI Protocol

Alliance welcomes clarity for local fishermen in NI Protocol.

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Alliance welcomes clarity for local fishermen in NI Protocol.

There was good news before Christmas for Northern Ireland’s fishermen, as the UK Government have clarified rules around port landings for NI-registered vessels. This will give local fishing fleets in Ardglass, Portavogie and Kilkeel a ‘best of both worlds’ scenario, where they can enjoy unfettered access to GB and EU ports.

Alliance South Down Representative Cllr Patrick Brown welcomed the news, and said: “Having visited both main fishing ports in South Down in recent months, Ardglass and Kilkeel, I was aware of the uncertainty around NI registered vessels and whether they will have to complete the additional paperwork required of GB vessels post-Brexit if landing into an NI or EU port.

“If they had, this would have required fishing vessels to complete at least three additional pieces of paperwork including a prior notification form and a landing declaration at least four hours before landing, and a catch certificate for DAERA.

Cllr Patrick Brown, third left, listens to Ardglass skipper Simon Wills expressing his concerns about the design of a prawn net.

“This would have been applicable even when returning to their home port with a small catch and would have placed an unfair amount of added bureaucracy on the shoulders of the already struggling local fishing industry.”

Cllr Brown added: “Whilst our own South Down MP refuses to take his seat, the Alliance MP for North Down Stephen Farry has been campaigning for the fishing industry in Westminster, pushing the UK Government to exempt NI fishing vessels from these new rules.

“Whilst Brexit will bring unnecessary red tape for many businesses, this is one positive to come out of the NI Protocol which Alliance has always said is necessary if we are to leave the Single Market.

“However, this Protocol is still subject to a deal with the EU and a No Deal situation risks losing all of these positive protections for the NI economy.”

Dr Stephen Farry MP, the Alliance Party’s Brexit Spokesperson, said: “Alliance opposed Brexit and remain committed Europeans. However, our responsibility now is to secure the best deal for Northern Ireland including our fishing industry.

Dr Stephen Farry, Alliance North Down MP.

“A very particular challenge has been ensuring that fishing catch that is landed by local boats in local ports is treated as UK (NI) produce for the purposes of the Northern Ireland Protocol and thus giving unfettered access to both the GB and EU markets.”

Slieve Croob Councillor Andrew McMurray added: “The fishing industry is an integral part of the South Down economy and a key area for growth in the future. But it is more than that.

“It is also a way of life for communities such as Ardglass. With the challenges of Brexit and a post-COVID world impending, it is vital that we ensure they are given every advantage and protection to allow them to thrive. Ensuring a best of both worlds deal in the Brexit negotiations and expanding both South Down harbours will deliver huge social and economic dividends for the area.”