The UK government has published a report on the ‘Benefits of Brexit’. The report illustrates the government’s view of the achievements over the two years since the UK left the EU.  There have several news pieces and research reports released this week which discuss Brexit in relation to UK fisheries and the environment:

Firstly, one study has revealed that the benefits to UK fisheries from Brexit “fall far short of government rhetoric”. The report, a collaboration between the University of York, New Economics Foundation, University of Lincoln and marine consultancy service ABPmer, found that while the government promised radical reforms to help the industry take back control of UK waters and increase quota shares (all while minimising trade impacts), this is starkly at odds with the reality of what has been achieved.

Despite government statements that Brexit would result in hundreds of thousands of tonnes of extra catch for UK fishermen, the research calculated that the increase will only reach 107,000 tonnes per year, or 12.4% by value for all species, by 2025.

UK fisheries management also continues in a state of interdependence with significant EU access to UK waters remaining, including in the six to 12 nautical miles off the UK coast, which the government claimed would be kept exclusively for UK boats.   New regulations and logistical barriers brought in by the Brexit trade deal also mean that exporting fish and seafood costs more and takes longer, so fish is less fresh and customers have been lost, the researchers say.

Lead author of the study, Dr Bryce Stewart, from the Department of Environment and Geography, at the University of York, said: “Government promises on Brexit and its benefits for the fishing industry were far in excess of what could be delivered. The industry became an icon of Brexit with claims it would correct past injustices and breathe new life into neglected coastal communities, but our study reveals the stark delivery gap between rhetoric and reality.”

Dr Stewart said: “While Brexit may bring some benefits to the environment, the government’s failure to deliver on its pledges to coastal communities will have further eroded trust in it’s motives and brings home the need for an end to overblown political promises. Future decisions on reforms need to be evidence based and made in collaboration with communities. The UK government faces a challenging start to managing fisheries outside of the Common Fisheries Policy.”

Another view of what a post-Brexit UK may mean for the environment can be read here, from the Brexit and Environment Network. A further report, from UK in a Changing Europe, noted that ‘although British fishers benefit from a slightly increased quota agreed in the negotiations, seafood exporters have faced extra paperwork and costs under the new trading regime’.

Finally, Greenpeace has released a short film, ‘High & Dry: How UK fishermen were sold out by Brexit’. A link to the film can be found here.

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