EXCLUSIVE: UK fish landings down 10% in 2022 - where’s the Brexit dividend?

Latest figures show Liz and Rishi must state their policy to save the UK’s fishing industry

Montage © Facts4EU.Org 2022

UK fishermen are still in deep water, thrown overboard by Mrs May’s EU ‘negotiations’

Facts4EU.Org has analysed the latest fisheries figures for the first half of 2022 versus the same period last year. According to the latest official government statistics released on Friday (29 July 2022), the tonnage landed by UK fishermen at all ports (UK and EU) was down by 10%.

Meanwhile foreign vessels actually increased their catch landed at the UK’s ports by 6%. By value they increased their take by an astonishing 58%.

Brexit Facts4EU.Org Summary

Quantity of fish landed at all ports by UK fishermen

First half 2022 compared with first half 2021

  • Jan-Jun 2021 : 309,149 tonnes
  • Jan-Jun 2022 : 277,947 tonnes (down by 10%)

[Source : MMO (official government agency), 29 July 2022.]

© Brexit Facts4EU.Org 2022 - click to enlarge

What did the Government promise?

On 25 July 2019, the Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, made a statement in the House of Commons and gave the following reply in answer to a specific question on fisheries.

“We have a fantastic opportunity now to take back control of our fisheries, and that is exactly what we will do. We will become an independent coastal state again, and we will, under no circumstances, make the mistake of the Government in the 1970s, who traded our fisheries away at the last moment in the talks.

“That was a reprehensible thing to do. We will take back our fisheries, and we will boost that extraordinary industry.”

Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Hansard, 25 Jul 2019

Boris Johnson’s ‘boost’ appears to have been to foreign vessels

Facts4EU.Org looked specifically at the value of catches by foreign vessels (principally from the EU) which were landed at UK ports in the first six months of this year, compared with the same period last year.

Brexit Facts4EU.Org Summary

Value of fish landed at UK ports by foreign fishing vessels

First half 2022 compared with first half 2021

  • Jan-Jun 2021 : £8,598,000
  • Jan-Jun 2022 : £13,586,000 (up by 58%)

[Source : MMO (official government agency), 29 July 2022.]

© Brexit Facts4EU.Org 2022 - click to enlarge

In February a study was conducted into the current state of the industry

Lead author of the study, Dr Bryce Stewart, from the Department of Environment and Geography at the University of York, wrote:

“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.

“Most of the significant increases in catch quotas are for just a few fisheries such as western mackerel and North Sea sole and herring. Most fishermen, particularly those in small boats, have seen few if any benefits, so due to new challenges around trade are likely to be worse off.

“Many people in coastal communities who were pinning their hopes on post-Brexit reforms feel betrayed and this comes at a significant cost to their well-being and mental health.”

- Academic study: ‘The Brexit deal and UK fisheries’, University of York, Feb 2022

The six researchers analysed all available data on catch quotas, actual landings and the proportions of different fish species living in UK waters.


A fishy business

The EU’s ‘Common Fisheries Policy’ (CFP) was a disaster for the UK’s fishing industry. Brexit was supposed to turn this around. Facts4EU.Org has published many reports on this, all accessible in our ‘Brexit Index’. (An excellent way of supporting our work.)

Instead the UK’s fishermen were sold down the river by Theresa May’s disastrous negotiations, the results of which formed part of the Withdrawal Agreement.

It seems clear that the UK does not have control of its internationally-defined ‘Economic Exclusion Zone’ (EEZ: up to 200 nautical miles), nor to its territorial waters (6-12 nautical miles from the coast).

The UK has issued hundreds of licences to EU fishing vessels under the terms originally negotiated by Theresa May and her team.

Will either Liz Truss or Rishi Sunak deliver Brexit?

For many Leave voters the fisheries industry was a totemic issue, akin to taking back control of our borders. Neither of these has yet been delivered.

We wish to be very clear about fisheries: This is not a failure of Brexit. This is the Government’s failure to deliver Brexit. We look forward to Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak stating what they are going to do about this.

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[ Sources: UK Government Maritime Agency | University of York ] Politicians and journalists can contact us for details, as ever.

Brexit Facts4EU.Org, Mon 01 Aug 2022

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