Home England government Brexit ‘falls short of government promises on fishing industry’, new study reveals

Brexit ‘falls short of government promises on fishing industry’, new study reveals


Posted on February 1, 2022

The benefits of Brexit for UK fisheries “fall well below government rhetoric”, a new study has found.

The government has promised sweeping reforms to help the fishing industry regain control of UK waters and increase quota shares. Image credit: Dr Bryce Stewart, University of York

The report, a collaboration between the University of York, the New Economics Foundation, the University of Lincoln and maritime consultancy ABPmer, found that while the government had promised sweeping reforms to help the industry regain control UK waters and to increase quota shares (while minimizing trade effects), this is in stark contrast to the reality of what has been achieved.

Despite government claims that Brexit would lead to hundreds of thousands of tonnes of extra catch for UK fishermen, the research calculated the increase would be just 107,000 tonnes a year, or 12.4% in value for all species by 2025.


UK fisheries management also continues in a state of interdependence with significant EU access to remaining UK waters, including within six to 12 nautical miles off the UK coast, which according to the government, would be reserved exclusively for British vessels.

New regulations and logistical barriers introduced by the Brexit trade deal also mean that exporting fish and seafood is more expensive and takes longer, so the fish is less fresh and customers have been lost, according to the researchers.

Principal author of the study, Dr Bryce Stewart, Department of Environment and Geography, from the University of York, said: “The government‘s promises on Brexit and its benefits for the fishing industry far exceeded what could be achieved. The industry has become a Brexit icon claiming it will right past injustices and breathe new life into neglected coastal communities, but our study reveals the stark gap between rhetoric and reality.

New challenges

The researchers analyzed all available data on catch quotas, actual landings and the proportions of different species of fish living in UK waters.

Dr Stewart added: “Most of the significant increases in catch quotas are in just a few fisheries such as western mackerel and North Sea sole and herring. Most anglers, especially those using small craft, have seen little or no benefit, so due to new trade challenges they are likely to be worse off.

“Many people in coastal communities who pinned their hopes on post-Brexit reforms feel betrayed and this has a significant cost to their well-being and mental health.

Co-author Suzannah Walmsley, fisheries and aquaculture specialist at ABPmer, added: “There has been a lot of talk about ‘zonal peg’, where quota shares are determined based on the proportion of fish stocks in the waters of each part. Our analysis of just 24 shares out of more than 100 included in the deal shows it falls short by at least 229,000 tonnes or £281m.


However, the researchers note that Brexit may bring some environmental benefits as it allowed the UK to regain autonomy to designate marine protected areas at sea, which was difficult within the EU as it required an agreement between all Member States.

For example, this enabled a proposal to protect the Dogger Bank – a large sandbank in a shallow area of ​​the North Sea. The area, which was once incredibly productive for marine life, has been heavily fished for centuries.

Dr Stewart said: “While Brexit may bring some environmental benefits, the Government’s failure to deliver on its promises to coastal communities will have further eroded trust in its motives and serve as a reminder of the need to end promises. overblown policies Future decisions on reforms must be based on evidence and made in collaboration with communities The UK Government faces a difficult start in managing fisheries outside the Common Fisheries Policy.