POST-BREXIT LANDING REQUIREMENTS FOR NON-EU FISHING VESSELS
Image courtesy of Geograph.ie
Fishing communities around Ireland with UK-registered (including Northern Ireland) fishing vessels or food business operators who deal with these vessels, are being urged to familiarise themselves with EU fisheries and food safety controls in a post-Brexit era.
These controls arise from the UK’s status as a ‘Third Country’ since their departure from the EU on December 31, 2020, and particularly focus on designated ports and additional documentation. Food business operators must also ensure that the product they are purchasing has legally entered the EU.
While movement of fish and fishery products is mostly unrestricted within the EU, imports from outside the EU are ‘strictly regulated’. Under current illegal, unreported and unregulated fisheries (IUU) legislation, ‘a landing by UK (including NI registered) vessels to Irish ports are regarded as direct landings by Third Country vessels’.
As a consequence, landings ‘can only take place in ports designated specifically for this purpose’, says the Sea-Fisheries Production Authority.
Under NEAFC Port State Control and IUU regimes, Ireland has seven designated ports: Killybegs, Castletownbere, plus Burtonport, Greencastle, Rathmullan, Howth and Ros a Mhíl recently designated for landings of NI registered vessels ‘in certain scenarios’.
Physical inspections of landings to verify quantities and species declared ‘are also possible’ the SFPA adds. IUU regulations specify several cases where fishing vessels registered to a Third Country ‘must always be inspected’.
The SFPA is also reminding vessels owners that prior to importing fish landed into an EU port from a Third Country vessel, a catch certificate validated by the fisheries authority of their flag state (e.g. the UK) ‘must be submitted for the catch’.
Dr Susan Steele, chair of the SFPA, said UK vessels are now experiencing “significant change” from their past EU status when they could land at up to 22 ports.
Northern Ireland registered fishing vessels “need to consider four broad additions to their obligations when landing to Irish ports: They must go to designated ports; they must provide advance notification together with various completed mandatory documents; they must await authorisation from Irish authorities before entering port or discharging fish, and they should expect inspection from time to time”.
Unlike vessels registered in other parts of the UK, Northern Ireland registered vessels can land frozen product into Howth, Ros a Mhíl, Killybegs and Castletownbere once they comply with NEAFC and IUU requirements, following prior notification of 72 hours. (As these are not border control posts, food regulations would generally preclude landings of frozen fish by Third Country vessels.)