Brexit uncertainty hits UK fishing industry

Brexit uncertainty hits UK fishing industry
Copyright Reuters
By Damon Embling
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British fishing industry has by in large supported Brexit, but they are now raising concerns about the future.


Nestled off Scotland’s west coast, the isle of Islay is rich fishing territory.

It sustains jobs, income for families and helps keep the island’s economy alive.

Islay Crab Exports is a family-run business, exporting crabs, lobsters, scallops and winkles. The vast majority goes to other EU countries.

Brexit weighs heavy on the minds of bosses, who turn over almost seven million euros a year.

“Most of our sales are going to France, Spain, Portugal," Fiona McFarlane, the company's Secretary, told Euronews. "So, a huge amount of our business is done with these countries. And all our workers are coming from Romania and Bulgaria, so this Brexit thing is going to have a huge impact on our company.”

Brexit battleline

Under the European Union’s Common Fisheries Policy, all European fishing fleets have equal access to EU waters. It's something that has become a battle-line in Brexit.

“Britain’s fishing industry in general has long supported Brexit, with voices demanding the UK takes back control of its waters," Euronews' Damon Embling reported from Islay.

“The thinking is that in the future, after Brexit, foreign vessels could still be allowed to fish in places like Scotland, but Britain would dictate the access.”

In Scotland, it’s claimed 60 percent of what would be Scottish fish is currently caught by other EU nations.

But to maintain frictionless exports to the continent in future, restricting other European boats may well hit the rocks.

'To keep trading or not, who knows'

Companies like Islay Crab Exports fear a no-deal Brexit outcome could be devastating.

“I’m sure there’s going to be a considerable extra cost for us. There’s going to be time delays with the transport, with all the customs controls, lots of extra paperwork, catch certificates, all sorts of things," said Fiona McFarlane.

“To keep trading or not, who knows.”

And, on what she hopes will now happen with Brexit, McFarlane said: “Just get it sorted, as quickly and as easily as possible.”

Migrant workers worry

Gabriel Ilkov, 25, left his home in Bulgaria to process shellfish on Islay.

He's banking on Brexit allowing migrant workers like him to keep coming to the UK to earn money.

“If they exit, I hope we will keep our work here, they will allow us to stay here," he told Euronews. "We are here because Bulgaria doesn’t have so much work for us. The payment is not so good. And for young people like me, it’s hard to make a family.”

Brexit could bring mixed fortunes for the fishing industry in Scotland and the rest of the UK. An industry that brings so much to communities like Islay.

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