Northern Ireland news

Donegal island fishermen claim Brexit putting lives at risk

Donegal island fishermen say they are being forced to make an extra six-hour journey through dangerous seas to land their catch at Killybegs.
Seamus McKinney

A GROUP of Co Donegal fishermen have claimed they are being forced to sail through dangerous seas because of an un-anticipated side effect of Brexit.

The fishermen from Donegal’s three main off-shore islands – Toraigh, Árainn Mhór and Inis Bó Finne – have been told they can only land their catches at one of two Irish ports because they use Northern Ireland-registered vessels.

Six boat owners say their vessels came with northern licences when they were purchased many years ago. As it would have cost a lot of money to re-register the boats, they never did. However, because the vessels are now listed as non-EU, they can only land their catches at Killybegs or Castletownbere and must give 24 hours notice.

Up until the end of last year’s Brexit transition period, the boats were able to land catches at Greencastle, Burtonport, Magheroarty and other smaller harbours. John O’Brien from Inis Bó Finne said the new rules mean he must undertake a much longer journey through seas which were “a graveyard” for small boats to land his catch at Killybegs. Mr O’Brien said the island fishing boats were too small to undertake the extra six-hour journeys to Killybegs.

The new Brexit rules are also impacting on northern fishermen who usually landed their catches at Greencastle. Coleraine registered vessels are now barred from landing at Greencastle despite being just a short distance away on the other side of Lough Foyle.

The Republic’s Agriculture and Fisheries Minister, Charlie McConalogue – who is from Inishowen – said he was trying to find a solution to the problem.

Mr McConalogue told Highland Radio: “It’s not straightforward but I am very much aware of it and the implications for those affected by having Northern Irish-registered boats,”

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