Andrew Kuyk, director general of the Provision Trade Federation, has revealed that the new relationship between the UK and EU is set for “tough negotiation” over fishing rights.
“The position of the processors is that most of our raw materials are imported, which would be in the control of the UK Government,” he said.
“Most of that is not even imported from the EU but from Norway and Iceland. We would expect the Government to do deals with them and others to enable that to continue.”
However, there is likely to be heated debate from both sides on the wider fishing industry including fishing rights. The EU has said it wants a new agreement similar to current quotas, while the UK, which will become a coastal state after the transition period, has said it is up for negotiation.
Concerns have been raised that the EU will try to link the fishing rights negotiation with a future trade deal.
One of the crucial issues facing the negotiations is the fact that most of the fish eaten in the UK is imported, as British consumers do not tend to eat a lot of the fish that is caught in UK waters, such as herring and mackerel. Much of this is exported to the EU.
“If we don’t have a market to sell it into, we don’t have a gain for UK fishermen,” Kuyk added.
Meanwhile, Barrie Deas chief executive of the National Federation of Fishermen’s Organisations, said it supported a deal similar to that of Norway with the EU.
“Fishing has got a very high political profile and it would be difficult for the Government to come back from the negotiations to say that they had sold fishing out,” he argued.
He believed the UK had leverage, as the EU fleet fishes six times more in UK waters than the UK fleet fishes in EU waters.
Meanwhile, Giles Bartlett, fisheries improvement manager at Whitby Seafoods, is pushing for a bi-lateral arrangement with Ireland.
Trouble for Irish fish processors
Whitby Seafoods’ Scampi is made with scampi tails caught by both UK and Irish boats in the waters surrounding the UK and Ireland.
“Irish boats currently catch scampi tails in UK waters, so as it stands, there is a risk that will be excluded from UK fishing grounds – so we at Whitby Seafoods could suffer reduced supply of scampi tails under the current proposal – unless the UK agrees a bi-lateral arrangement with Ireland,” Bartlett said.
“Our supply chain, interests and perspective are quite unique in the respect that we benefit from both UK and Irish boats having good access to fishing grounds and we hope an agreement can be made that benefits both parties.”
The Marine Stewardship Council UK & Ireland director Erin Priddle has pushed for the UK to make sure its domestic legislation includes scientific limits on how much fish can be caught in its waters based on clear scientific advice.
“Whatever the outcome of the UK/EU negotiations, overfishing must be prevented. All coastal states must work collaboratively to ensure fish stocks are managed sustainably for this and future generation,” she said.