Fishing industry hails Brexit bonanza

Brexit could see a £540 million increase in economic output and 5,000 extra jobs for seafood industries, a Scottish Government report has suggested.

Brexit could see a £540 million increase in economic output and 5,000 extra jobs for seafood industries, a Scottish Government report has suggested.

Analysis done by Marine Scotland has looked at the potential economic impact of new fish trade agreements post EU Withdrawal.

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The Scottish Fishermen’s Federation (SFF) hailed the figures, which amount to a 21 per cent increase in economic output, as a “potential bonanza”.

The document, published by the Scottish Government agency, looked at a series of economic scenarios. The most optimistic in terms of economic output was a future which would see the removal of all tariffs on UK exports to all countries and the removal of UK tariffs on imports from all countries. It would also see a small reduction of non-tariff barriers between the UK and non-EU trading partners, and a reallocation of fishing quotas in the UK’s favour based on the zonal attachment principle. Zonal attachment is a way of defining how the amount of fish to be caught from a shared stock should be divided amongst the coastal states in whose waters the stocks occur.

According to the document, a new arrangement along those lines outside the EU would see a direct increase in economic output of around £320 million.

Indirect impacts would add a further £220m, making a total of £540m, the equivalent of a 21 per cent increase in output across the Scottish economy producing 5,000 jobs.

SFF chief executive Bertie Armstrong last night welcomed the “Seafood Trade Modelling Research Project”, which was based on trade models for ten individual fish and shellfish species and the impact on total allowable catch.

Mr Armstrong said: “This report simply underlines the importance of the UK regaining sovereignty over its own waters and becoming an independent Coastal State with the powers to control access and fishing opportunity. For Scotland that could be worth an additional £540m in income and create 5,000 more jobs in the sector, it says.

“Any other course of action would be harmful to the fishing industry and, given its importance to coastal communities – again as highlighted in the report – that would be totally unacceptable.

“There are challenges ahead in securing these aims, of that there is no doubt. But in light of the potential bonanza, we would urge politicians of all parties to press both the UK and Scottish governments to work together to support the aims and objectives of the fishing industry.”

In the past the Scottish Government has come under fire from its opponents for its stance on fishing. Critics of the SNP administration have said its pro-EU stance commits Scotland to the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP).

The fishing industry believes EU Withdrawal offers a chance for the sector to break free from EU control over UK waters.

The SNP has argued that Scotland should come out of the CFP. But others have questioned how that is compatible with the party’s commitment to the EU when CFP membership is a requirement of EU membership. The most pessimistic scenario outlined by the report - with trade barriers between the UK, EU and other countries - forecast output falling by £50m.