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Commercial Fishing Seafood Processing



Seafood fears over no deal Brexit. The failure of the UK parliament to support the Brexit deal negotiated by the British Government and the EU throws considerable confusion on the future course of European fisheries and the wider seafood industry.

Fishermen in the UK, who mostly support Brexit, will be fearful that the chance of greater catching opportunities offered by leaving the Common Fisheries may never happen at all, or may result in fudge and compromise. Many UK seafood exporters are worried about the impact on free-trade resulting from a no deal scenario.

Whilst on the other side of the coin, European fishermen will be anxious that a hard Brexit will mean their ejection from lucrative UK territorial water fishing grounds. Similarly, many European processors and seafood traders are dependent on seamless trade with UK suppliers.

Only recently, the Chief Executive of the Irish Killybegs Fishermen’s Organisation, Seán O’Donoghue warned: “Ireland’s two biggest fisheries, mackerel (60%) and nephrops / prawns (40%) are massively dependent on access to UK waters with the overall percentage of stocks currently fished from UK waters by the Irish fleet standing at more than 30%. We cannot countenance a situation whereby this access might stop at 11pm on March 29th next due to a hard Brexit.

“Whereas fish are mobile and know no borders nor bear any nationality, our trawlers don’t have this luxury and must obey boundaries and exclusion zones. Our industry is standing on the edge of a precipice and everything that we have strived for and developed for generations is staring into the abyss.”

Prime Minister Theresa May and her government is now consulting frantically with opposition parties to try and find a proposal that the UK government could vote for. But the EU has already signalled that it is not prepared to renegotiate a deal – and time is running out.

The European fishing and seafood sectors are thus facing a period of great uncertainty – and the one thing any business hates is the unknown and inability to plan ahead.