The government is seeking to fix a legal discrepancy exposed following a Supreme Court judgement that found Northern Ireland vessels fishing for mussels in Irish waters were doing so illegally.
A long-standing fishing agreement called the Voisinage arrangement allows fishing boats from Northern Ireland to fish within the 0 to 6 nautical mile zone of Irish territorial water, and reciprocally it allows Irish fishermen access to Northern Irish waters.
However the agreement was never enshrined in law and following a recent Supreme Court judgement it was found that the Northern Irish vessels fishing for mussels in Irish waters were doing so without a legal basis.
The government is now seeking to amend the Sea Fisheries Act to allow these boats access to Ireland’s coast and ensure the Voisinage arrangements are given a proper legal footing.
The amendment passed through Seanad on Friday, though due to time constraints a final vote was skipped. The bill is expected to undergo committee stage this month.