Seafish statement on the Brexit deal

Brexit deal is a welcome relief for the seafood sector if it makes trade flows easier but uncertainty remains on fishing rights

Aoife Martin, Director of Operations at Seafish, said: “The UK Government announced today (24 December) that it has reached an agreement on our future trading relationship with the EU when the transition period comes to an end on 31st December.

“The EU is our closest trading partner - 75% of our seafood exports went to the EU last year - so agreeing a trade deal is important for the future of our seafood sector in the UK.

“As the public body supporting the seafood sector in the UK to thrive, Seafish has been at the heart of understanding the complexities of Brexit since the referendum result in 2016. Over the last four years, we have supported the seafood industry to prepare for a no deal outcome. This was likely to make trade difficult and costly so we’re glad to see a deal that should make trade flow easier.

“However, this agreement is unlikely to remove the need for customs formalities so seafood businesses should continue to prepare for increased paperwork and checks.

The big trade headlines today for seafood businesses are:

  • Considerable easing of tariff requirements for seafood imported from and exported to the EU. There will be zero tariffs for the UK but businesses will need to meet rules of origin requirements. Rules of origin relate to where goods (and their ingredients) originate from and will determine if products can take advantage of zero tariffs. The exact detail of how the rules of origin will apply is still unclear at the moment.

  • Food safety checks will remain the same as expected under no deal preparations so businesses should still prepare for changes to the veterinary checks required to trade with the EU.

“Fishing rights have been the biggest sticking point in these negotiations and whilst fishing feels insignificant to some people, it is the heart and soul of the communities around our coast that depend on it.

“We know that there will be a significant uplift in quota for the UK fleet, equal to 25% of the value of EU catch in UK waters, to be allocated over five and a half years. This will be negotiated again once the agreed period comes to an end. It’s not yet clear what species are included in the allocation and whether they are all commercially important to the UK fleet.

“It’s also unclear what rights EU vessels have within the 6-12 mile zone in the waters around the UK, but we expect that will become clearer in the coming days.

 “Despite today’s announcement, it’s important to remember that the deal still needs to be approved by the UK parliament and the EU. We expect we won’t see much of the detail until that happens at which point we can start to properly unpick it and explain what it means for the seafood businesses and organisations we support.

 “In the meantime, our regulation team are available again from 27 December for anyone looking for advice.”

Press contact

Due to the timing of this announcement, we can arrange interviews from 27 December.

Denise Fraser
Head of Communications
0131 524 8656
07904 660512