What Will Be The Impacts Of The EU UK Trade Deal?
One of the questions that faces the government is the ultimate impact on UK fishing as a result of the EU UK trade deal. The fisheries industry is an integral part of the UK’s food chain, providing over 40% of our fish and seafood supplies. The UK has one of the world’s largest fleets of fishing vessels, and the provision of suitable supplies for the fishing industry has been a key aspect of both fishery management and government policy.
Today, intensive levels of fishing are contributing to a major decline in fish stocks and populations. Fish stocks are now seriously threatened by overfishing, which has made it increasingly difficult for the fishing industry to meet consumer demand for fresh, healthy, low-sugar fish. As a result, the status of our fishermen and their families has come under severe pressure, with the total number of fishermen now expected to fall dramatically by the end of the next decade.
Fearing the effects of overfishing, government policy makers have focused on improving fisheries management and the ability of the industry to meet consumer demands for fish. Following a Government review of fisheries policy, the aim was to harmonise quotas between member states so that there would be an incentive for both exporters and importers to cooperate. A major aim of the new fisheries policy was to improve the management of fisheries in UK waters, particularly those in the Atlantic, Scottish and North Sea. This has been of particular concern to those of us who are passionate about our oceans, who see them as the lungs of our nation.
There is a lack of transparency in the management of fisheries, where some countries have imposed massive quotas, even though they have not seen the need to stock any fish in their fleets. In these circumstances, it becomes almost impossible for the companies exporting fish to get back their export prices, and risk damaging their reputation. With so much at stake for the fishing industry, the UK government has taken measures to reduce the risks to businesses who are exporting fish abroad.
In an attempt to encourage the public debate on the implications of the EU UK trade deal, ministers have sought to promote the trade in certain protected species and to reduce tariffs to a level that would protect the UK from over-exporting. These measures will certainly help improve fish stocks, but the international ramifications of the EU UK trade deal are likely to be limited by the movement of fish between countries, as well as levels of technological development. Whatever the ultimate implications of the EU UK trade deal for the UK fishing industry, the most important outcome may be that it provides a more streamlined and cost-effective way of doing business.
After the agreement has been implemented, the UK’s fishermen can turn their attention to preparing for the economic and political changes that will inevitably occur once the UK leaves the EU. As a first step, we will have to buy new boats, introduce the latest technology, and make a significant investment in staff training and management. This will involve considerable effort and cost, which will be passed on to the industry through higher tariffs, but it is the best way to ensure that we can continue to provide a sustainable supply of fish for our consumers. In the face of this significant change, the outlook for the future health of the UK fishing industry is hopeful.
Fishing companies are fighting to regain control of their destinies, and have begun to take decisive steps to ensure that the EU UK trade deal does not affect their operations. As one of the largest exporters of fish to the EU, they are able to lobby vigorously in the European parliament, but the EU UK trade deal is now on its way to becoming a reality.