How Brexit May Slow Global Overfishing

♠ Posted by Emmanuel in , at 8/16/2016 03:43:00 PM
The fish trade fell in 2015 for the first time in a long time. Will Brexit affect 2016 and beyond?
Here's another of those stories in which a global economic slowdown is helpful to the cause of environmental preservation. Like reduced global carbon emissions in the wake of the global financial crisis, Brexit may be aiding another environmental cause: slowing overfishing. You see, the UK is both a major consumer and exporter of fish--the world's most-traded food commodity. Brexit impacts not only consumer demand in the UK itself as Britons feel the impact of reduced incomes, but UK fish exports to the EU may be hit as well after losing tariff-free privileges for these agricultural products:
Brexit is likely to cast a shadow over the global trade in fish in 2016, as the fall in the pound depresses the UK’s purchasing power as well as the value of the country’s seafood exports, according to officials at the UN Food and Agricultural Organisation. The UK is a leading exporter of salmon as well as being a top 10 importer of fish and fishery products.

“Brexit could depress seafood trade, especially in the short term, but also in the longer term because of more difficult market access for UK exporters to the EU,” said Audun Lem, deputy director of the FAO’s fisheries policy division. His comments came as world seafood trade fell in 2015 for the first time since the financial crisis as economic weakness in emerging markets, particularly Brazil and Russia, hit consumption and fish prices.
If the FAO is right, then combining reduced demand for fish in LDCs like Brazil and Russia coupled with the aforementioned UK dislocations may be beneficial for fish stocks--especially in waters near the UK. Some research suggests the UK is the worst offender among (current) EU nations in overfishing.

That said, some environmental activists claim that, unshackled from the restraints of the EU's Common Fisheries Policy (CFP), there will be little to prevent the UK from overfishing even more after it leaves the EU:
That is not what the history of shared resources tells us, instead the result will be a tragedy of overfishing. The reformed Common Fisheries Policy represents the best solution to overfishing in Europe with many stocks already showing improvement. Leaving it would send us back to the drawing board and the likelihood is that the environment (and fishers’ livelihoods) would suffer during years of bureaucratic wrangling.
We'll see...