Press release

European consumers pay the price for fish when hard brexit occurs

Published on
April 24, 2018

If the United Kingdom (UK) would completely close its marine areas, the UK, Ireland, the Netherlands and Belgium would be affected the most. For the UK aquaculture and fish processing production will decline due to trade measures. For the other three countries production of all fish producing sectors will decline. Also, because of a higher production volume of wild fisheries in the UK, the price of fish in this country will go down, resulting in lower production value and thus income of the sector. In the whole of Europe fish prices will rise. Especially Irish consumers will have to dig deep into their pockets: fish prices can increase up to 8%.

These conclusions are the result of a new research by Wageningen Economic Research within the European project SUCCESS. Closing marine borders due to a hard brexit effects several EU countries that regularly fish in UK waters. For example, around 40% of all Belgian and Dutch landings come from the UK waters. The study entails not only wild fisheries, but also aquaculture, fish processing and the other sectors of the economy. Also the tight trade relations between the EU countries are taken into account, which are very relevant for the consumer markets. Both EU and UK fish sectors would lose, except for Spain which can moderately benefit from reduced competition of UK boats in its marine waters. The brexit trade measures have further negative repercussions on the consumer markets across all Europe.

Lose-lose situation if hard brexit is adopted

It is important to note that more expert assessment about the possible repercussions of an increased (or reduced) fish access on factors such as labour is needed. This would however not influence the aggregated impact on the rest of the economy. It can be concluded that if a hard brexit is adopted as it is simulated in this analysis, a lose-lose situation for all affected parties and notable welfare losses could be expected due to increased protectionism and misallocation of resources.

The MAGNET model suitable to analyse impact of brexit

The MAGNET model used in this research is useful in analysing the impact of brexit. Not only can the impact of each of the hard brexit measures on the economy be decomposed, the interlinkages between different fish sectors and the impact of brexit on their relative competitiveness is captured.