CALLS to merge Pembrokeshire's ports from both sides of the Irish Sea have been branded as a potential 'catastrophe' while a local politician has said he will 'fight tooth and nail' for the port of Fishguard.

Last Thursday the Welsh Affairs Committee heard that it would make logistic and economic sense for Pembrokeshire to operate one ferry port, possibly being served by two companies, with back-to-back sailings to Rosslare.

"A lot of the ferry company customers would like to see a one port solution where you get two ferry operators but operating a back-to-back timetable," he said. "That would be the utopia because you'd have a six-hour frequency," Stena Line's head of UK port authorities, Ian Davies, told the committee.

"Logic yes would say it would make more sense from a logistics point of view and an economic point of view to have one strong ferry port with frequency of service. Obviously at Fishguard Port we would say that should be Fishguard because it's the shorter ferry crossing."

In the same week Glenn Carr, general manager at Rosslare Europort in Ireland, said that having a consolidated ferry service to and from one Pembrokeshire port could encourage hauliers back into using the ports and the land bridge.

At Fishguard port freight is currently 50 percent down on this time last year with hauliers moving goods from Ireland to the continent, and vice versa, eschewing the land bridge in favour of crossings between Rosslare and the European mainland. This is longer and more expensive but means no post-Brexit paperwork has to be completed.

Mr Carr said that one Pembrokeshire port offering a more frequent service would make sense, as if lorries using the land bridge were delayed at customs, coming e into the south of England, and missed a sailing from Pembrokeshire to Ireland, there would not be the current 12-hour delay until the next one.

Pembrokeshire Liberal Democrats have said the one port plan could be a catastrophe and urged local MP and Welsh Secretary Simon Hart to take urgent action to end the trading barriers which are fuelling the concerns for the long-term future of the ports.

They said it was 'essential' to keep both Fishguard and Pembroke Dock ferry ports open.

"Some companies have chosen to take the sea route from Ireland to the European continent rather than going through the UK's land bridge. They have done this to avoid the trading barriers which have arisen from our hard Brexit," said Alistair Cameron, Senedd hopeful for Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire.

"Mr Hart and his government colleagues need to 'step up to the plate' and take urgent action to eliminate these trading barriers before we lose one of our precious ferry ports."

Tina Roberts, the Welsh Liberal Democrat Senedd candidate for Preseli Pembrokeshire added:

"Both Fishguard and Pembroke Dock are vital ferry ports to our local community and to local businesses. Staff at these ferries have worked very hard to provide an excellent service which also benefits tourism and local trade. The government needs to end its trading barriers with Ireland to avoid the catastrophe of one of these ferries closing."

Crymych councillor and Plaid Cymru's Preseli candidate for the upcoming Senedd election Cris Tomos said he would 'fight tooth and nail to save cross border trade with Ireland'.

"I was shocked to read this recommendation this morning," he said."During the referendum campaign nobody spoke of abandoning Pembrokeshire's ports.

"My question to Paul Davies and Stephen Crabb is, which community would they like to see losing out?

"They've backed Boris Johnson and his extreme form of Brexit every step of the way, to the detriment of local communities and businesses who will inevitably lose out. They made promise after promise to those who use Pembrokeshire's ports, all of which seem to have been broken, given the huge fall in cross border trade.

"The reality is, in backing Boris Johnson and his extreme Brexit plan, they've put party and leader first and turned their backs on Fishguard, on hauliers and on local businesses.

"Fishguard is home to a great variety of small businesses," he added. "I want the Welsh Government to support them, to invest in skills and apprenticeships so that these businesses can benefit from a larger local workforce.

"I will fight tooth and nail to reverse the extreme elements of our current Brexit situation, to save cross border trade with Ireland, so the port of Fishguard doesn't risk facing closure as recommended by the manager of Rosslare port".

"To build back better after the pandemic, local communities need investment, not trade barriers, more uncertainty and pointless flag waving".