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Theresa May’s very fishy Brexit deal.


Rem Korteweg’s analysis of Theresa May’s Brexit deal on the British fishing industry.


Here is a chart that highlights the four main fish caught by UK vessels, and landed in the UK. Herring. Mackerel. Cod. Haddock.

Fisheries administration in the UK / GOV.UK

You need cod and haddock for fish and chips, but not herring and mackerel.

Remember this, it is important...


The number 1 and number 2 fish the UK catches are mackerel and herring, but they are all for export.

The UK sends 81% of its mackerel, and 93% of its herring abroad. Mostly to Norway and the Netherlands.


Remember fish and chips?

The UK only catches a tiny quantity of the cod it consumes: only 5%. The rest comes from overseas.

Haddock (also used in fish and chips) is more evenly balanced. But even here more than half of UK consumption has to come from abroad.

Britain gets most of its cod and haddock from Norway, Iceland and China. This does demonstrate the interdependence of our economies and how consumer preferences (eg. Brits hardly eat any mackerel!) drive trade.


Under the current Brexit backstop, fish is carved out. Meaning that if no fisheries agreement is struck between the UK and the EU by July 2020, EU boats will not have access to UK waters, and the UK will not have access to the EU markets for its fish.

This is a lose-lose outcome.

Danish, French, Dutch, Belgian and Irish fishermen would be hurt as they catch a chunk of their fish in UK waters.

But Britain would lose an important export market for their number 1 and number 2 catches (eg. 30% of UK mackerel and 34% of UK herring goes to The Netherlands).


So, either British consumers should start to learn to like mackerel and herring... and EU consumers should prepare to pay more for fish.

Or we need an EU-UK fisheries agreement that covers both access to waters and market access.

Very fishy, indeed.🔷



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(This piece was first published as a Twitter thread and turned into the above article, with the author’s conscent, with the purpose of reaching a larger audience. It has been minorly edited and corrected.)


(Cover: Pixabay.)


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Senior research fellow and Coordinator at Clingendael (the Netherlands Institute of International Relations). Expertise: Europe in the world, Europe and the EU, Trade and Globalisation.
The Hague, The Netherlands. Website

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