Brexit - Fishing

8 January, 2021
Allan Peart

Fishing was one of the final sticking points in post Brexit trade talks and regaining control over UK waters was a key part of the Leave Campaign in 2016.

Whilst EU boats can continue to fish in UK waters for some years to come UK boats will now have a greater share of the fish from these waters, which will be phased in between 2021 and 2026 with most of the quota transferred immediately in 2021.

EU quotas will be reduced by 15% in the first year then 2.5% each year after, estimating that UK boats will now have access to an extra £145m of fishing quota every year.  If we compare that to what UK boats caught in a “normal” year in 2019 British vessels caught circa 502,000 tonnes of fish worth around £850m from UK waters.

For some species however the quotas will not change in certain fishing areas, for example Channel cod where a significant amount is already caught mainly by French boats.

It’s worth noting that in 2019 the UK fishing industry exported more than 330,000 tonnes of fish to the EU.  This accounted for nearly half of their total catch.  The shellfish industry is totally dependent on this exported trade.

What will Brexit and the new deal do to the cost of fish?  What is does is create or in reality, maintain a free trade area with zero tariffs and zero quotas on all goods, imports and exports between the EU and the UK.  However, there are a number of requirements that will add time and an element of additional work.

New checks and controls will still apply to all goods traded. The level of these will depend on whether products are ‘low-risk’ or subject to higher food and product safety standards, sanitary and phytosanitary controls, identity and physical checks, and health certification (for example animal and fishery products and livestock, as well as plants and plant products).

Will this add cost? All of these additional checks will add time to the process.  The additional resource required will be dependent on the company in question and whether they already have the expertise in house capable of picking up the additional paperwork. So potentially, yes, the cost of all the additional time and resource will be passed on by the hauliers and suppliers alike.

Imports into the UK from the rest of the world will move to the new UK global tariffs from the previously agreed EU trade agreements.  These tariffs have overall been simplified and account for currently conversion only.

What the overall final position looks like in terms of supply chain and cost of goods will take a little while to understand whilst bedding in, Regency Suppliers have been working to mitigate, as much as possible, any potential foreseen challenges with availability of product.

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