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Charlie McConalogue says opening of extra Donegal ports will allow trawlermen to ‘continue their livelihoods in a safe manner.’

He confirmed on Tuesday that five new ports Greencastle, Rathmullan and Burtonport in Donegal, Rossaveal in Connemara, and Howth in north Dublin, will be open to ‘third country’ vessels, registered in the north only, for catch certification purposes from February 1.

Killybegs and Castletownbere continue to be designated for landings from vessels of any ‘third country’ origin.

The five ports will be open to vessels registered in the Six Counties for illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) and North East Atlantic Fisheries Commission (NEAFC) checks as is required by law.

Greencastle Harbour.
Greencastle Harbour.

The Minister has confirmed that he is working to make sure the necessary notifications and requirements are in place to have these ports operational from Monday, February 1, 2021.

Greencastle, Rathmullan and Burtonport will be designated for non-quota species landings from vessels under 18 metres and will operate from 2pm to 8pm from Monday to Friday.

Under the new designations Rossaveal and Howth will be able to accommodate landings of demersal fish from vessels under 24 metres and will operate Monday to Friday from 10am to 10pm.

According to the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM), from January 1, 2021, the United Kingdom is a third country and subject to IUU legislation and NEAFC requirements.

This means that any UK, including Northern Ireland, registered vessels must comply with third country landing requirements when landing in the EU, including Irish ports and is a direct result of Brexit and included in the Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland.

Up until a conclusion of an agreement on the future relationship between the UK and the EU on Christmas Eve, it remained unclear whether Northern Ireland vessels that had access to Irish waters would continue to do so.

The Minister said: “This is an important decision which will allow fishers in small vessels to continue their livelihoods in a safe manner.”

He went on to say “following Brexit, it is important now more than ever, to support our fishers and fishing communities and to do all we can do help them continue their livelihoods.”

Any UK Northern Ireland registered boats landing into any of the seven Irish ports will have to comply with additional documentary and procedural requirements than before Brexit. Designation of ports is within the State’s authority, but all requirements and protocols are subject to EU and international law and must be strictly adhered to to gain entry to ports.

The Minister concluded: “I thank the Sea-Fisheries Protection Authorityfor its work to putting in place the arrangements necessary to provide for these additional port designations and I am glad that the outcome will mean that many of those fishers who were unable to operate following the outcome of Brexit will have now have the capacity to access a number of extra ports.”

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