Boris Johnson urges Britons to eat more local fish as solution to post-Brexit trade disruptions
- Credit: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire
Boris Johnson has supported calls for a campaign to promote British seafood during a video conference with Conservative MPs from coastal areas.
Johnson also promised to address concerns surrounding quotas and the ban on shellfish exports to the EU, following massive trade disruptions for British fishermen.
Meanwhile, the fishing industry leaders have accused Johnson of being "in denial" about the scale of the problem it is facing.
Barrie Deas, chief executive of the National Federation of Fishermen's Organisations, said fishermen were "very disappointed" with Johnson's trade deal, which gave "free access" to EU fleets in UK waters without "securing revised quota shares that would reflect the UK's new status as an independent coastal state".
He did, however, welcome the idea of a "buy British" campaign.
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The UK is a net importer of cod and tuna, while hake, which is plentiful in UK waters, is exported to countries like Spain. UK fleets catch more mackerel than any other species, although 60% of that is landed abroad, according to official figures.
During his call, Johnson promised an "action plan" to deal with export problems.
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Great Grimsby MP Lia Nici told BBC political reporter Sarah Sanderson: "We discussed short-term measures how to make sure that businesses can stay viable with the problems they're having - but also longer-term legislation and what the UK can do in order to grow the industry in the future."
The prime minister also urged coastal communities to invest in infrastructure to prepare for larger catches but Deas said that expanded quotas would not provide "additional fishing opportunities necessary to underpin the regeneration of our coastal communities".
Labour's shadow environment secretary Luke Pollard said "no amount of top spin from the prime minister" would make the structural problems facing the industry go away.
He wanted people to eat more British fish, he added, but "this in itself will not save the fishing industry from going under because of the poor deal that's been achieved over our exit from the European Union".
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