The fishing industry was overwhelmingly in favour of Brexit, and so the news that we had decided to leave the European Union was consequently met with widespread delight.
This reaction stems from many factors, chief among them the immense hostility of the industry towards the EU's Common Fisheries Policy, as well as the policy of allowing non-UK vessels the right to fish in the UK's Exclusive Economic Zone.
A House of Lords committee on Energy and the Environment recently stated that, if the UK is to retain access to the single market, then the fishing industry must accept difficult deals over foreign fleets. With the UK being so dependent on EU trade, they argued that single market access, together with open and low tariff access for member states, would be "essential" for UK fisheries going forward. So what seems apparent is that the decision to leave does not necessarily mean the present system will be completely overturned if proper negotiations are to take place.
The difficulties associated with Brexit in the wider marine industry are also set to continue. Shipping had already been facing widespread worldwide decline prior to the decision, and the uncertainty surrounding Brexit is unlikely to arrest this process.
On a positive note, the UK should not now be affected by new legislation such as the proposed Ports Services Regulation, which many in the industry felt would be costly and unnecessary. The UK may now avoid this and other legislation being implemented here as we begin to take full control over the regulation of our industry again.
Overall, the picture for the marine industry, like any prediction for the rest of the economy, looks far from clear at this very early stage. Article 50 has yet to be triggered and the negotiations with our European neighbours have not even begun. The marine industry must hope and expect that our negotiators will have its best interests at heart, rather than using this vital trade as a form of bargaining chip.
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