Cod or scallops: English fishing fights for its future

By Judith Mora

Brixham, United Kingdom, Dec 18 (efe-epa).- Activity at the port of Brixham, in southwest England, has been muted by the pandemic but members of the fishing community are nervously awaiting the outcome of the Brexit negotiations.

Their stories reflect the frustrations and hopes of a sector battling for its survival.

The dilemma lies in the balance between quotas and the market. Many want bigger quotas for domestically sought-after species like cod while maintaining access to the European market, where some 80% of their catch ends up.

Access to continental markets is particularly important for shellfish such as scallops, the majority of which is exported to be served up on the menus of Paris and Madrid.

Although the fishing industry contributes just 0.1% to the United Kingdom’s GDP, with a fleet of 6,000 vessels and providing 12,000 jobs, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has made it one of his key battlefronts in the negotiations for a post-Brexit deal.

For the government, regaining control of British waters is a paramount aspect of regaining sovereignty from the EU.

The UK’s fishing industry heavily backed Brexit during the 2016 referendum, although the reasoning behind each vote varies.

Fishermen in Brixham, which lands the biggest catch in England in terms of value, voted to leave the bloc in a bid to reverse the fortunes of an industry neglected by consecutive UK governments and weathered by EU regulations.


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