The British fishing industry has reported problems with Brexit

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Brexit has been welcomed by many in the British fishing industry, but it is now causing anger and frustration for an overwhelming majority. So says a report by the All-Party Parliamentary Group of the House of Commons (APPG) on Fisheries, which sets out the results of a review of the sector.

In addition to the issue of wild fish quotas, the UK seafood industry is facing increased paperwork for exports to the European Union and a labour shortage due to new restrictions on EU recruitment, the report said.

In the winter of 2021, APPG Fisheries published a survey to compare the experiences of Brexit as reported by the fishing industry. The responses revealed serious and common concerns about the financial losses and long-term viability of individual businesses, fishing fleets and other parts of the industry, including processors and transporters.

Exporters typically struggled to get their supplies across the border, resulting in loss of revenue or, in extreme cases, entire markets, while small fishermen felt unable to compete with larger EU vessels, which retained some access to UK waters until at least 2026.

One respondent reported, for example, that “EU shellfish sales have fallen by 65-70% and at least 60% of live crustaceans and the remaining sales have come from wholesalers, rather than custom, smaller and more profitable traders and retailers. The economics of these [previously] more profitable small sales have been ruined by costs such as health certification, customs inspections and VAT agent fees.”

All exporters faced delays due to the increased number of documents, which affected processing times. One respondent shared that almost all trucks entering the EU from the UK are physically checked at border checkpoints (BCPs), compared to the spot checks they felt were occurring for shipments from countries such as New Zealand.

As previously reported in Fish Farmer , EU import regulations that exclude most live UK bivalve shellfish have had a devastating effect on producers of farmed and harvested shellfish.

Fishermen also reported that the agreement finally reached with the EU on fishing quotas has not improved the industry’s position compared to when the UK was still a member state.

A number of respondents also noted that both the quota auction system and the new challenges to export to the EU had disproportionately affected small producers, who were less able to cope than larger players.

A summary of the respondents’ recommendations in the survey included:

Ensuring fairer allocation and management of quotas.
Further limiting non-British fishing fleet access to British waters before 2026.
Ensuring effective and inclusive management of inland stocks.
Working with the EU to free up trade and remove regulatory and financial barriers
Introducing additional restrictions on access to UK waters for non-UK fishing fleets.
Investing in infrastructure and new markets at home and abroad.
Alistair Carmichael MP, APPG vice-chairman, said: “After the government has repeatedly raised many issues facing fishermen and the wider seafood industry over the past two years, APPG’s work has been vital in gathering evidence from around the world. sector.

“This timely report provides a direct insight into the unique circumstances facing our fishing industry as a result of the new terms of trade and will be an important resource for those in Parliament and Government who are keen to support the sector.”

The report was co-funded by Seafarers’ Charity and the Fisheries Charitable Trust, part of The Fishmongers’ Company.

Tina Barnes, Head of Impact at The Seafarers’ Charity, said: “This report sheds light on what is required from policy to help support UK fishermen who have suffered many negative impacts on their livelihoods as a result of Brexit.

“Listening to the advice of the industry itself will help them get the help they need.”

Alistair Carmichael concluded: “Based on the correspondence I have received personally and the reports in this report, it is clear that greater engagement is needed and a pragmatic, serious effort is required from ministers to support the fishing industry to ensure that coastal communities can continue to thrive in the future.”

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