Disputed Irish loughs present Brexit conundrum for fishermen

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Fishermen worry about water conundrum amid Brexit
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Fishermen worry about water conundrum amid Brexit
Windows of houses reflect the light of the sunset from the shore of Carlingford Lough in Greencastle, Northern Ireland, February 8, 2017. REUTERS/Clodagh Kilcoyne
Seabirds fly on the shore of Carlingford Lough looking out at the Republic of Ireland from Greencastle, Northern Ireland, February 8, 2017. REUTERS/Clodagh Kilcoyne 
A moored boat stands on the banks of Carlingford Lough in Greencastle, Northern Ireland, February 8, 2017. REUTERS/Clodagh Kilcoyne
A worker tends to oysters on William Lynch's oyster farm on Lough Foyle in Culmore, Northern Ireland, February 10, 2017. REUTERS/Clodagh Kilcoyne
Carlingford Lough and in the distance Northern Ireland are seen at sunset from Omeath, Ireland, January 31, 2017. REUTERS/Clodagh Kilcoyne
A man walks his dog in matching hi-vis wear on Carlingford Lough in Greenore, Ireland, February 15, 2017. REUTERS/Clodagh Kilcoyne
A sign that reads: "In 1721 nothing happened here" is seen on the shores of Carlingford Lough in Carlingford, Ireland, February 15, 2017. REUTERS/Clodagh Kilcoyne 
A donkey is seen on the shore of Carlingford Lough in Omeath, Ireland, February 17, 2017. REUTERS/Clodagh Kilcoyne 
Bagged-up farmed oysters are seen at a cleaning facility to get them ready for overseas shipping in Moville, Ireland, February 10, 2017. REUTERS/Clodagh Kilcoyne
A derelict house is seen on the shore of Carlingford Lough in Omeath, Ireland, February 17, 2017. REUTERS/Clodagh Kilcoyne 
Northern Ireland is seen on the left and the Republic of Ireland is seen on the right with Carlingford Lough in the middle, seen from Omeath, Ireland, January 31, 2017. REUTERS/Clodagh Kilcoyne 
Women walk along the shores of Carlingford Lough with Northern Ireland seen across the lough in Carlingford, Ireland, February 15, 2017. REUTERS/Clodagh Kilcoyne 
Skipper Shay Fitzpatrick dredges mussels from Carlingford Lough in Warrenpoint, Northern Ireland, February 9, 2017. REUTERS/Clodagh Kilcoyne 
A ship dredges mussels from Carlingford Lough in Carlingford, Ireland, February 9, 2017. REUTERS/Clodagh Kilcoyne 
A man is handed a towel after swimming in Carlingford Lough in Omeath, Ireland, February 17, 2017. REUTERS/Clodagh Kilcoyne
Enda Craig, a member of the Loughs Agency Advisory Forum, holds a map of Lough Foyle in Moville, Ireland, February 10, 2017. REUTERS/Clodagh Kilcoyne 
A woman with flowers walks past an old fuel station in Carlingford, Ireland, February 17, 2017. REUTERS/Clodagh Kilcoyne 
A screen with a map of Carlingford Lough is seen as skipper Shay Fitzpatrick (L) and boat owner Brian Cunningham navigate out of Warrenpoint harbour into Carlingford Lough in Warrenpoint, Northern Ireland, February 9, 2017. REUTERS/Clodagh Kilcoyne 
A poster hanging on a wall of a house reads: "No to the ferry", referring to a proposed new car ferry that would run from Northern Ireland to Republic of Ireland through Carlingford Lough in Greencastle, Northern Ireland, February 8, 2017. REUTERS/Clodagh Kilcoyne 
Oyster farmer William Lynch puts on his wellington boots on his oyster farm on Lough Foyle in Culmore, Northern Ireland, February 10, 2017. REUTERS/Clodagh Kilcoyne 
A boat is seen at sunset on Carlingford Lough in Greenore, Ireland, February 15, 2017. REUTERS/Clodagh Kilcoyne 
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WARRENPOINT, Northern Ireland, March 7 (Reuters) - Mussel fisherman Brian MacDonald shares many of the concerns about Britain's divorce from the European Union that are felt by tens of thousands of people who earn a living along the border between Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic.

However the native of the Northern Irish harbor town of Warrenpoint has an additional headache on top of the prospect of tariffs and trade disruption - the waters in which he fishes are the subject of a territorial row that stretches back decades.

Carlingford Lough - an estuary that forms part of the border between the county of Down in British-run Northern Ireland and Louth in EU member Ireland - is one of two waterways that present particularly complex issues as Britain removes itself from the EU over the next two years.

"No one can define who owns what. Neither of the two governments have defined the border here and nobody can say where is the North and where is the South," said MacDonald.

"It's two fiddlers playing two completely different tunes and we're stuck in the middle and nobody wants to talk to us about it."

Talks are ongoing between the Irish and British governments relating to the jurisdiction of Carlingford Lough and the unresolved ownership of Lough Foyle, which lies to the west between Donegal and Londonderry, the Loughs Agency, a cross-border body overseeing both areas, said in a statement.

Across the water from Warrenpoint in Greenore, fellow mussel fisherman Brian Cunningham fears Brexit could lead to a doubling up of paperwork such as trawler registrations and add costs that would hurt the industry.

He said most boats based in Northern Ireland normally fish off the coast in the Republic of Ireland.

"When Brexit comes, what's going to happen? We're going to have to jump through hoops that by the time the paper work is sorted out our mussels will be dead," he said.

"They are landed live, processed live and sold live to the customer. It's a live animal, its no different than the cattle, sheep or pig. So, it's going to be very, very difficult."

Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny has said it is of "vital national interest" that no physical barrier or customs controls be put back on the border, winning initial EU backing. But the fishermen of Carlingford Lough fear their long-standing concerns will not be a big priority.

"It's vitally important to us that ... we have an equal footing to try and make a living as we have done for numerous years now," said MacDonald.

"But because we are not a big voice in the grand scheme of things nobody wants to talk to us and that's it."

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