Defra Brexit negotiator's pledge to seafood industry

By Grimsby Telegraph | Posted: 18 Oct 2018

DEFRA’s leading fisheries negotiator has told seafood leaders how the industry’s Brexit concerns are being pushed hard in Whitehall.

Nigel Gooding, deputy director within the key Government department, is head of EU and international fisheries, and is leading on fisheries EU exit work.

Waking to news that the transition period may be controversially extended served to underline the as yet undefined end-game, but the pledge to industry was clear.

A key speaker at UK Seafood Summit, he told how there was crucially recognition of differing issues within the sector itself.

Mr Gooding said: “This is an incredibly important time as we leave the EU and build new relationships. We fully appreciate opportunities and challenges you face as an industry. Historically we have lumped the industry in to one, but we recognise very different challenges for the processing sector, the catching sector, distributors and retail operators.”

UK Seafood Summit round-up

Praising the industry for helping get behind the data, Mr Gooding – who pre-2016’s referendum was entirely focused on quota negotiation - said: “It is often a very complex journey and I am confident my team I have now, which has grown from zero to five, has a much better understanding than a year or so ago. We are having more conversations on trade issues than ever before, and that has to be a good thing.”

Setting out the white paper proposals, including new certification likely to be required, he said: “Fish is a global traded commodity and the UK is an important producer and trader of fish. It is important we look to ensure continued market access is available to our most important trading partners. “Government is looking to transition existing free trade agreements with our closest allies around the world. My team will continue to represent your industry in these negotiations taking place in central government.”

Aware of concerns over labour, he encouraged industry to continue to contribute to survey work undertaken by Seafish to feed into the Migratory Advisory Committee.

“Challenges and issues from different parts of the industry are fully recognised,” he said. “The matter rests with the Home Office but Defra ministers are very keen your voice is heard.

“We are committed to seeking a deep and special relationship or partnership with the EU, encompassing the best possible deal for the seafood sector. I will take this opportunity to assure you we in Defra will continue to play our part and want to work with you as we prepare for the challenges ahead as we prepare for exiting the EU.”

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