Ireland South MEP, Billy Kelleher has called on the Irish Government to reach out to other EU member states with a view to securing support in policing Irish fishing waters.

The Renew Europe MEP was responding to concerns from the Irish South and West Fish Producers Organisation.

“Quite rightly, Irish fisheries organisations have called into question the potential of the Naval Service to adequately patrol Irish waters once Brexit comes into play.

“Irish waters are a rich spawning ground for many species of fish. They must be rigorously protected if we are to secure future stocks and future employment for Irish fishermen.

“Until the Naval Service is strengthened, we must look for support from our EU colleagues,” said the Fianna Fáil MEP.

“Longer term, Minister Coveney and the Government in general, must commit to restoring the Naval Service, and indeed the wider Defence Forces, to their full operational capacity. As an island nation, our Naval Service is incredibly important and it must be given the resources needed to protect our waters.

“However, we face an immediate threat if Britain restricts access to their waters in the event of a no-deal Brexit. We will see an influx of other European fishing vessels into Irish waters.

“We must have the policing capacity to ensure that quota rules are adhered to, that illegal fishing does not take place and that the potential income of Irish fishermen is not drastically reduced.

“I am appealing to the Irish Government to prepare for this possibility and ensure that if it happens, Irish fishermen will have their rights protected in their own waters,” concluded Kelleher.