Industry leaders optimistic about post-Brexit future

By Grimsby Telegraph | Posted: 27 Feb 2017

GRIMSBY'S seafood industry is "best set up" to overcome the challenges and exploit the opportunities presented by Brexit with high hopes that the sector will thrive.

That's the overriding feeling of some of the Humber region's leading seafood industry experts, who came together at the Humber Seafood Institute for a special Brexit workshop.

The 90-minute conference featured an update on the Government's Brexit plan from Cleethorpes MP, Martin Vickers.

It presented a chance for industry leaders, from the likes of the Grimsby Fish Merchants Association and Seafox, to raise issues they want to be considered during negotiations of the country's withdraw from the European Union.

Whilst there is a feeling that the Humber region can profit from a break-away from EU fishing, packaging and trade regulations, there is apprehension about how the seafood sector will hurdle inevitable challenges thrown up by Britain's imminent breakaway from Europe.

Challenges may include a hike in tariffs, a battle to turn a profit with inflated exchange rates and competing against cheap labour from competing countries like Poland and Lithuania, as well as European powerhouses Germany and France.

Keynote speaker, MP Martin Vickers, said it was important for him to take on board the worries of industry expert so he can feedback Brexit negotiation requirements to ministers.

He spoke of his confidence in the industry to thrive post-Brexit.

He said: "We must ensure that the industry is best placed to take advantage of opportunities and take on the difficulties.

"The industry will be free to produce its own regulation and people should be excited about that.

"There will be challenges whatever the environment after Brexit but I'm confident that the expertise here can overcome them."

The Eurosceptic MP added: "People are always apprehensive about change but the aim of seminars like these are to ensure that these concerns will be successes."

The Conservative MP was joined at the workshop by Mike Woods, chair of the Grimsby Fish Merchants Association.

Mr Woods explained that while huge investment would be needed for the industry to cope and despite holding "major concerns" over revised customs laws, he is confident the local seafood sector can tap in to post-Brexit Britain's "unbelievable opportunities".

He said: "There is an immense number of fish out there and we have the best infrastructure in the country to ship produce.

"I am optimistic but we have to be, that's what the industry is all about.

"Of course things are at an early stage but we know there will be more opportunities for exports.

"I hope the apprehension will soon turn to optimism.

"I have been encouraged by what Martin Vickers has had to say and I am confident that the seafood sector can come out of Brexit with positive outcomes."

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