Consider the humble prawn, on many shopping lists and menus and the mainstay of the fishing industry in North Shields, England’s biggest prawn port.
Fishing is one of the most emotive and important parts of the Brexit debate. In fact exiting the Common Fisheries Policy was discussed long before the referendum but there was little in the way of planning. Different regions have different priorities. In the South West taking control of a 200 mile limit could keep out French and Spanish boats. For the North East prawn fishery a 12 mile limit would probably suffice and visiting boats are likely to be Scottish or Northern Irish.
But catching fish is just part of the issue. More than 90% of prawns landed at North Shields are taken by lorry for sale on the Continent. The prawns are not processed or frozen, they are fresh and have to be delivered within 5 days. So access to markets is vital and exporters would not welcome additional bureaucracy, licences or tariffs. Some Brexiteers argue Europeans would simply have to buy our prawns whatever, but that’s a theory I would not like to see tested.
This week in Parliament, Labour Friends of Fishing was launched to make sure the voices of our fishing communities are heard. The fishing industry was sold out by one Conservative Government on entry to Europe, we need to make sure it’s not sold out by another on exit.