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  1. ITV Report

Remain or Leave? The impact on the fishing industry

Video report by ITV News Correspondent Martin Geissler

Ahead of the in/out referendum on Britain's membership of the European Union, ITV News looks at the potential impact on the fishing industry, starting with some key facts.

LANDINGS

59%
of UK vessels landed their catch into the UK in 2014
22%
of UK vessels landed in Norway in 2014
  • UK vessels landed more catch in Netherlands, Denmark and Ireland than England, Wales and Northern Ireland in 2014.
Fishing catch is brought ashore in Scotland's north east . Credit: ITV News

EXPORTS/IMPORTS

66%
of UK seafood exports go to EU countries
70%
the approximate seafood value that enters the supply chain imported or landed by foreign ships
7
of the top 10 countries the UK exports to are in the EU
32%
of seafood is imported from EU countries
  • Iceland and China import the largest amount of fish to the UK
A busy fish market in Scotland. Credit: ITV News

PROFITS

  • UK fishing industry profits are going up
271
million euros was the gross UK profit in 2013
367
million euros was the gross UK profit in 2014

QUOTAS

  • The UK negotiates a quota for each fish stock with the EU.
  • The government is responsible for distributing the UK quotas.
Fishing communities have to comply with European quotas that have been imposed. Credit: ITV News
  • Why do many in the fishing communities want to leave the EU?

The Common Fisheries Policy was introduced. This is where limits on the amount of fish caught (quotas) are agreed between EU nations and other non-EU countries fishing the same waters. It led to many days of fishing being lost and people's livelihoods in these communities were affected.

  • What will happen to quotas if we leave the EU?

The UK will still enter into quota negotiations as a separate entity from the EU, along with Norway and Iceland. There will still be quotas imposed by the UK government as it is widely agreed among governments that they are necessary to maintain fish stocks.

  • We eat lots of fish from overseas. What will happen to fish coming into the UK from elsewhere if we leave the EU?

This depends on what trade deal we make with the EU and other countries we do deals with for fish. We import a great deal of fish from China and Iceland which aren't in the EU. We would continue to import their goods as before.

  • Would our fishers be the only ones in UK waters if we leave the EU?

This is unlikely, as fishing rights go back hundreds of years, and weren't first introduced with the Common Fisheries Policy. We need to land our fish in other ports, as other country's vessels need to land in our ports.

  • Do we eat more British fish than fish caught by other countries?

No, we eat far more fish from overseas than caught in Britain. Two-thirds of British catch are exported.

A fishing trawler boat comes into shore in Scotland. Credit: ITV News

Analysis from ITV News correspondent Martin Geissler:

I've been coming to this corner of Scotland for more than 20 years, speaking to trawlermen and hearing their concerns.

They are passionate people, many are from families who have fished these They have a long list of gripes, all directed at the EU, an institution that's strangling them, or so they claim.

Many see June's referendum as a huge opportunity. A chance to "give Britain back control of its own waters".

But the reality of a Brexit wouldn't be as straightforward as they might like to believe.

They would still face fishing quotas, which would be negotiated by the same politicians they've long accused of letting them down. They'd still have to trade with our European neighbours - a massive market for our fishing industry.

And they'd almost certainly still have to share waters with boats from other countries, who'd have the right to fish there too.

There are few guarantees in any of this, and the vote comes just as the industry is enjoying increasing profits.

After long, lean years, the tide finally seems to be turning for a once embattled industry, making this decision, perhaps, harder than it might have been before.

– Martin Geissler

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