Brexit: Fisherman discusses plan to 'look further afield'
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British fishermen have been hitting out at the trade agreement the UK and the European Union reached in December as threatening to their business. Increasing export costs, as well as severe delays at the border between Britain and the continent, have left many in the fishing community struggling to keep their businesses afloat. Brixham fisherman Ian Perkes said the new post-Brexit system has pushed many in the sector to turn their backs on Europe and seek alternative customers both across the UK and abroad.
Speaking to CGTN Europe, Mr Perkes said: “Our business has taken a downward spiral, we’re having an absolute nightmare shipping fish throughout Europe due to the delays through the customs.
“Basically, we had customers for these before Brexit and we’d probably make 50 to 80 pence a kilo and we had a customer that would probably take three to four hundred kilos per day.
“But then again if we had no other orders, the extra cost we’ve encountered now would not make it viable for us to send 300 kilos because it’s going to cost us another £300 per day to ship.”
The fisherman said he hoped the disruption to the industry would be temporary but noted the increased export costs are likely to remain.
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He continued: “We hope the delays will be temporary.
“At present, what is not temporary is the cost and the extra admin.
“Our intention is to look further afield, away from Europe. Be it in the UK, be it wherever. We’ll all adapt accordingly whether I’m still here to be adapting is another thing.”
Mr Perkes also noted he would back remaining in the EU were he to be given the option to vote again: “Disappointed, very very disappointed – love to have my time again and vote to stay in.”
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Members of the fishing community have been urging the British Government to review the current deal in place with the EU, but chief executive of the National Federation of Fishermen’s Organisation Barrie Deas insisted fishermen had secured three immediate benefits from Brexit.
Mr Deas said that while the UK did not receive as much quota return as they wanted initially, they would still benefit from the 25 percent from the EU.
He said: “The two to maybe three positives, we did get a bit of extra quota, nothing like our due as an independent, coastal state, but we do get some and that’s been allocated now to the devolved administrations.
“Then the two real positives is we are an independent party in international fisheries agreements and we will probably only see that the consequences of that over time.
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“But I think that is very significant. And then the other one is this regulatory autonomy that if we don’t agree with the EU, we can go ahead and manage our own waters in the way that we see fit as long as the measures are non-discriminatory.”
Under the Brexit trade deal agreed in December, UK fishermen will receive a 25 percent quota return over the next five years.
EU boats will continue to have access to British waters but after the five year period, new negotiations will begin to thrash out the terms for access and quota shares on an annual basis.
Each side can also terminate the deal, although this will affect elements of the Trade and Cooperation Agreement.
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