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UK fishing industry 'will need access to European markets to thrive after Brexit'

Credit: PA

Britain's fishing industry will need continued access to "crucial" European markets after Brexit, a parliamentary report has said.

With 66% of UK fish exports going to the EU, the Government must preserve tariff-free or low-tariff trade in fish as part of its Brexit negotiation, said the House of Lords EU Committee.

The committee warned that other EU nations may demand greater access to UK waters than home-grown fishermen would want as part of a trade-off agreement, the report warned.

66%
The percentage of UK fish exports going to EU countries.
32%
The percentage of imports of fish to the UK that comes from EU countries.

The committee warned that the interests of the fishing industry should not be sidelined in the Brexit negotiations, even though it accounts for less than half of one per cent of GDP.

Even though it makes up a small proportion of the UK economy, the fishing industry is highly significant to coastal communities, the report said.

The UK should ensure regulation is in place to prevent over-fishing, the report said. Credit: PA

Leaving the EU will mean exiting the much-criticised Common Fisheries Policy (CFP), giving the UK the right under international law to control who fishes within its waters.

It will give the UK the opportunity to develop regulations tailored to its own needs, said the report.

But the committee said that the UK should not discard elements of the CFP which has helped prevent over-fishing.

Lord Teverson, chairman of the Lords EU Energy and the Environment Sub-Committee, said: "Many people in the UK fishing industry were vocal supporters of Brexit and there is a strong sense that it presents an opportunity for them to grow and develop the industry.

"That may very well be the case but if that opportunity is to be taken, while ensuring fishing does not return to the unsustainable levels of the past, we need to ensure the recent positive developments of the Common Fisheries Policy, largely promoted by the UK, are not discarded.

"Fish stocks are a shared resource and fish don't recognise national borders. We will have to continue managing fish stocks in a responsible and co-operative way to prevent over-fishing."

A Government spokesman said: "We recognise the importance of our fishing industry and we will be working hard to secure the best possible deal for all our fishermen - both now, and for the future.

"As we enter the EU negotiations, the Prime Minister has been clear we want to ensure British companies have the maximum freedom to trade with and operate in the Single Market.

"At the same time, leaving the EU is a real opportunity to review fisheries management in order to ensure fair access to quota, sustainable stocks and a healthy marine environment."