Unedifying stunts mispresent our fishing industry's relationship with Europe. But there's another product we should be worrying about—and it’s one we really loveby Penny CS Andrews / March 22, 2018 / Leave a comment
The thought of taking back control over our fishing industry and regaining sovereignty over our coastal waters reliably gets people of a certain demographic going—which is why the fisheries transition arrangements in this week’s draft EU Withdrawal Agreement made the news. Well, that and the fact that this week we were treated to the unedifying spectacle of Nigel Farage, and a group of fishermen and campaigners, throwing a box of dead haddock into the Thames. (Fellow Brexiteer Jacob Rees-Mogg and friends were unable to dock their trawler to join in the fun because he didn’t have the right permissions.)
Yet dumping dead haddock in the Thames doesn’t make the clever point about policy Farage and chums might think. Haddock is a demersal species. The demersal discard ban, which obliges fisheries to “land” all their catch, has been in place in the UK for over two years, and the pelagic discard ban for three.
What’s more, larger UK fishing quotas were negotiated as a result of the Landing Obligation. This change in EU law was negotiated by… the UK. (If anything, the Remain campaign really should have talked up this influence we appear to have over negotiating fishing policies.)
Fish processing is a far bigger industry here than marine fishing and aquaculture, and we only have an estimated 11757 fishermen—20 per cent of whom work part-time. The UK has been a net importer of fish since 1984, with 721 thousand tonnes coming into the country in 2014, mostly from non-EU countries like Iceland and China, and only 499 thousand tonnes leaving it, mostly to the EU. We import tuna, cod, salmon, shrimps and prawns and export salmon, mackerel and herring.
Becoming more self-sufficient in food terms after Brexit means getting the British public to develop a hitherto undiscovered love for herring. This is going to be hard work, given that the UK eats less fish per head than anywhere in Western Europe.
Actually, we eat more chicken than we do all fish put together and any other meat, with chicken overtaking red meat in 2016. Chicken is a growing industry for the UK as the fish industry shrinks, both domestically and for export. It has a big place in our homes and lives. It’s already a…