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Ireland must be prepared to abandon talks on EU-Norway fishing deal, industry leaders say

Ireland must be prepared to abandon talks on a deal giving Norway greater access to Irish waters, say fishing industry chiefs.

The deal, which is being negotiated between the EU and Norway, is being discussed at a time when other EU states want a greater share of Norway’s cod stocks.

Industry chiefs here fear the EU will sacrifice Ireland’s fish stocks to keep Norway happy so the rest of the EU can get what they want.

Norway is currently allowed by the EU to fish 74,000 tonnes of blue whiting in Irish waters but has demanded it be allowed fish for a total of 450,000 tonnes. File picture: Andy Gibson

Norway — despite not being a member of the EU — is currently allowed by the EU to fish 74,000 tonnes of blue whiting in Irish waters.

This is considerably more than the 48,000 tonnes Irish fishermen can catch in Irish waters.

But as part of annual international quota negotiations to do with how much various states can fish in other states’ waters, Norway has included a demand that it be allowed fish for a total of 450,000 tonnes of blue whiting in Irish waters.

Talks, which stalled last December after Agriculture Minister Charlie McConalogue objected to Norway’s request, begin again on Wednesday. 

Irish Fish Producers Organisation chief executive Aodh O’Donnell said: “The EU must ensure fairness is central to any proposal to grant Norway greater access to Irish waters.

“Ireland cannot be expected to acquiesce to these new and additional requests for access unless we are offered a reciprocal arrangement.

“We appreciate that other EU states desperately want a deal with Norway to give them access to Norway for cod stocks. 

But it is unthinkable, unjust and inequitable that everyone else should gain at Ireland’s expense.”

He added: “Ireland must be prepared to walk away unless a meaningful quota transfer is agreed, in return for giving Norway wider access to our blue whiting. 

“The minister has already shown resolve on this matter, and he must insist a piecemeal deal is unacceptable. He has our full support on this crucial issue, to help turn the tide for our coastal communities.”

Irish South and West Producers Organisation chief executive Patrick Murphy said: “The Government must be resolute and clear. 

“A firm position must be taken until a clear arrangement is reached which benefits Ireland as much as Norway. 

“Ireland must no longer attend the table as a perpetual loser, we must be prepared to walk away and refuse to countenance any additional unfair deal with a non-EU member.”

Ireland’s quotas were slashed by 15% in the Brexit Trade and Cooperation Agreement, but while the cut helped get the deal over the line for more powerful EU member states, the deal has since damaged Ireland’s fishing industry.

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