Northern Ireland fishing boats impounded by Irish Navy" width="976" height="549">
The two boats were still tied up at Clogherhead Harbour in County Louth on Thursday
Two Northern Ireland fishing boats have been impounded by the Irish Navy. They were detained in Dundalk Bay on Wednesday for alleged breaches of fishing regulations. It follows the collapse of a gentleman's agreement allowing vessels from NI and the Republic reciprocal access to each other's inshore waters. A spokesman for the Irish Navy said the two trawlers had been escorted to Clogherhead by a fisheries protection vessel and handed over to police. The Northern Ireland-registered boats, The Amity and The Boy Joseph, were fishing for crabs, lobsters and whelks.
At present, Northern Ireland vessels are banned from fishing inside the Republic of Ireland's six-mile limit. But the Republic's fleet has not been excluded from Northern Ireland waters.
'Evidence of hard border'
Fishing industry representatives have been complaining about the situation since the collapse of the so-called Voisinage Agreement in 2016. They say it is evidence there is already a "hard border" in the Irish Sea.
Prawn trawlers from Northern Ireland favour the sheltered waters of Dundalk Bay in the winter
The agreement collapsed after Irish fisherman challenged its legality in Dublin's Supreme Court and it ruled in their favour. The Irish government promised to legislate to regularise the situation, but it has not yet done so. It has been claimed this is due to the fact it has now become a potential bargaining chip in wider Brexit fisheries negotiations. Prawn trawlers from the Northern Ireland fleet favour the sheltered waters of Dundalk Bay in the winter. The collapse of the agreement has affected about 20 Northern Ireland registered boats that would traditionally have fished there.
Republic of Ireland
Fishing industry
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