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MPs to probe impact of Brexit on Northern Ireland fishing industry

By John Mulgrew

The impact of Brexit on the local fishing industry is to come under the spotlight at Westminster.

The Northern Ireland Affairs Committee has announced an inquiry to "examine the impact of the UK's decision to leave the EU on the fisheries industry in Northern Ireland".

It will look at the "opportunities and challenges" that lie ahead for the sector and examine what elements of existing EU fisheries policy help trawlermen which could be subsequently "replicated when the UK Government develops an independent fisheries policy".

"Equally, it will investigate areas where the UK Government has the potential to diverge and create new strategies to improve the sector," it said.

Committee chairman Andrew Murrison said: "Brexit has big implications for the fishing industry in the British Isles and for the communities that depend on it, towns like Portavogie, Kilkeel and Ardglass.

"The UK has decided to extract itself from a framework of fishing quotas, rights to territorial waters and sustainability that has governed the sector since the 1970s.

"There are real opportunities for growth, but we must fully understand the complexities in order to secure the right arrangements for Northern Ireland principally, but also to do the right thing by the Republic of Ireland as an enduring member of the EU.

"We want to hear from those who work at sea, in processing or any of the other support industries, about their hopes and fears for the future.

"We have set up an internet forum, where you can share your experiences, so please take a moment to give us your views."

The committee will look at a number of areas around the fisheries sector here, including what challenges it faces, and the impact export tariffs could have following the UK's exit from the EU.

It will also examine how important market access is to the industry following Brexit, and what measures and regulations could be put in place following the UK's withdrawal from Europe.

Speaking last month, Northern Ireland Fish Producers Organisation chief executive Harry Wick said the sector was planning for "long-term opportunities".

"This positive outlook is further enhanced by Brexit and the opportunity of added ownership and management of our fish stock over the coming years," he said.

Belfast Telegraph

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