British fishing industry in crisis

Fishing boats moored in Brixham harbour in Devon, England
Fishing boats moored in Brixham harbour in Devon, England | Image: Politico

UK Fishing industry faces an exports black hole over red tape

More than 70 per cent of UK seafood exports go to the EU however, the introduction of post-Brexit rules and paperwork has caused huge disruption.

Fishing industry leaders say complicated new regulations are costing money and causing shipments to be delayed or even cancelled, putting significant pressure on an already struggling sector. In addition, impending rules on hygiene certificates threaten to place further financial pressures on the industry.

Fishing bait being unloaded at Bridlington Harbour in Yorkshire
Fishing bait being unloaded at Bridlington Harbour in Yorkshire | Image: Danny Lawson

British fishing companies have already lost millions of pounds as orders are cancelled because they have been unable to provide the paperwork now required by EU importers. With some companies nearing bankruptcy, seafood hauliers descended on Westminster last week to protest at the terms of the Brexit trade deal. It was here that Boris Johnson “let slip” a Government plan, now confirmed, to assist some parts of the industry.

Seafood exporters will soon be able to claim up to £100,000 in compensation from Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra). The Government is setting up a £23m compensation package for firms exporting fish and shellfish to the EU that can show they have suffered “genuine loss”.

Fishing trawler going out to sea

Defra said the scheme would be targeted at small and medium-sized operators, with payments made retrospectively to cover losses incurred since 1 January.

Barrie Deas, the head of the National Federation of Fishermen’s Organisations, welcomed “a financial safety net for businesses at risk of failure” but called for “emergency support for fishing vessels impacted as well”.

Donna Fordyce, the chief executive of Seafood Scotland, also welcomed the announcement of “short-term assistance” but said the government needed to do more to support the sector.


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