Brexit case for UK seafood industry was overstated, APPG study finds

Published on
November 8, 2022
A Dorset U.K. fisherman unloading his catch.

U.K fishermen were promised the results of Brexit and leaving behind the European Union's common fisheries policy would enable the country to regain control of its waters. A fisheries white paper also guaranteed a historic opportunity to do things better.

However, a report by the All-Party Parliamentary Group titled Brexit: Voices of the U.K. Fishing Industry" shows the rhetoric turned out to lack substance. In reality, Brexit left the fishing industry and the wider seafood sector crying foul in the wake of unexpected and unwelcome detrimental impacts on livelihoods, business turnover, labor, exports, and access to fishing areas and quota. Report contributors expressed fears for the long-term viability of individual businesses, fishing fleets, processors, and transporters, following significant and ongoing financial losses.

The report proposed six recommendations to improve the health of the U.K. fishing sector post-Brexit, including investing in infrastructure and new markets at home and abroad, and ensuring effective and inclusive management of domestic stocks.

“The negative impacts of Brexit on the livelihoods, and therefore the welfare of individual fishers, has been significant. We have been delighted by the positive reception to the report, which provides compelling evidence that action should be taken to support the industry,” The Seafarers' Charity Impact Director Tina Barnes said. The Seafarers Charity co-funded the report.

Five months on from the report's release in June 2022, the APPG has followed up on the report with a video, “A Post-Brexit Future for U.K. Fishing.” The video features the views of seven APPG parliamentary members discussing what a post-Brexit future for the U.K. fishing industry could look like, and how government and policy can help the industry to thrive. The aim is to provide a powerful, easily understood message, to garner greater support from the government, to put right the wrongs caused by Brexit, APPG on Fisheries Chair Sheryll Murray said.

“The strength of the APPG on Fisheries lies in its cross-party nature, with the needs of fishers, coastal communities and other marine stakeholders taking precedence over party politics,"  Murray said. "This timely video, bringing together voices from several different parties on how to support U.K. fishing for the benefit of all, provides a fantastic illustration of this."

Photo courtesy of Nigel Jarvis/Shutterstock 

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