Main photo

Home icon For all your accountancy needs call us Truro. 01872 272047 | Falmouth. 01326 375587

It’s probably fair to say that the overwhelming majority of Cornish fishermen voted for Brexit in the hope that they would achieve more control and influence over the management of quotas and the ability to limit the number of foreign boats fishing in British waters. Indeed, local MP and vigorous leave campaigner George Eustice, Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, said that Brexit would mean the UK Government could represent itself at quota negotiations and that UK interests would not then be bargained with in order “to give advantages to other EU countries”.

The British fishing fleet has been shrinking for some time but the industry still employs 12000 fishermen and contributes £420million to the UK’s GDP. Contrast that, though, with figures from the farming sector which contributes almost £10 billion to the UK economy and employs 465,000.

The immediate effects of Brexit are very limited. The UK continues to be a member of the EU until an exit has been negotiated and the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) will continue to apply to the UK even once Article 50 is invoked.

In the short term, we may see the devaluation of the pound - particularly against the euro - and that will have a positive impact on the prices our fishing industry gets when considering the amount of UK-landed fish that is exported.

Ian Moores

Lang Bennetts medical, fishing and farming specialist Ian Moores
ian.moores@lang-bennetts.co.uk

Going forward, the only thing certain is uncertainty.

The fishing industry needs to avoid becoming a pawn or bargaining chip in the negotiations. To do that, it’s essential to ensure its voice is as loud as possible – underlining the need to deliver on Brexit aspirations. Of course issues like the free movement of people and access to the single market are going to be very high on the political agenda but that doesn’t mean ignoring challenges that are equally important to the people they affect.

And talking about immigration, how are Brexit negotiations going to impinge on the fishing industry’s ability to recruit non-UK crew and staff into its processing factories?

Scotland is another challenge. The majority of the UK’s fishing grounds are in Scottish waters. What will happen if Scotland eventually votes again and independence wins?

There are lots of questions and very few answers. All we know in relation to the UK’s fishing policy post-Brexit is just how much we don’t know but making ourselves heard and presenting our case is surely the best way forward.