Brexit poses “severe threat to Britain’s fishing communities”

Small UK vessel Small boats in the UK will fare worse than larger vessels following Brexit, a New Economics Foundation report has warned

Brexit will almost certainly have a negative economic impact on large parts of Britain’s fishing industry and reliant coastal communities.

This is the key finding of a New Economics Foundation report which analysed different Brexit scenarios according to their impact on different parts of the fishing fleet.

Griffin Carpenter, senior researcher at the New Economics Foundation, said: “Brexit poses a severe threat to Britain’s fishing communities, as the majority of ports receive most of their landings from vessels that do not hold quota but do export to the EU market. As ministers negotiate a future fishing deal, they must be clear on the scale of this threat.”

Five scenarios

The report – called ‘Not in the Same Boat: The economic impact of Brexit across UK fishing fleets’ uses five Brexit scenarios ranging from ‘No Deal’ to ‘Soft Brexit’. It found that it is only in the ‘Fisheries First’ scenario (where Britain puts fisheries above all other interests in Brexit negotiations and the EU does not prioritise fisheries) that there will be benefits across the UK fleet.

In the more likely scenarios, the report states, Brexit will see some fishers – mainly small boats – do far worse than others. The rest of the fishing supply chain, including processors, wholesalers and retailers, is highly exposed to the risks of tariffs and non-tariff barriers.

The report also highlights the danger of overfishing as a result of UK politicians and industry leaders promising more quota, while European leaders promise not to decrease quota.

Small vessel support

It recommends dropping combative rhetoric in Brexit negotiations and focusing on a co-operative approach; using any increase in quota to support the smaller boats which traditionally lose out; seeking a post-Brexit transition deal for at least two years; and securing access to the EU market with minimum tariffs and non-tariff barriers.

The report also recommends empowering fishers through co-management and increased representation for the small-scale fleet and generating funding for management through a landings tax.

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