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Brexit threat to Cornish shellfish industry

9 February 2021.

We are all tired of talking about Brexit. But Brexit has happened whether we wanted it to or not. Now, it’s about saving Cornish jobs and industries from the consequences ofBrexit. The fishing industry, for example, were told they would be one of Brexit’s winners. But it hasn’t turned out that way. Close to home for me, the Fal Oyster Fishery lost its entire export business on 1 January when we left the EU. As we are now a ‘third country’, we can no longer export unprocessed oysters, scallops and mussels into the EU. We have no means to process the shellfish - that would mean building new purifying plants on the banks of the Fal. The Government appears to have forgotten about shellfish in their Brexit deal, and there are still no details of the proposed £23 million compensation package they announced weeks ago. And for those who say we should just sell our scallops in the UK? The industry has set up local markets where they sell about 40kg per week. They used to export 10,000

kg per week to the EU and despite French Covid lockdowns last year, they were still selling at full capacity. There is no way the UK market can fill this gap.

Cornwall’s trade with the EU is higher than the UK average. 55% of our exports go there and 47% of our imports come from there. Last week the Road Haulage Association announced a 68% drop in exports through British ports in January. The form filling and physical checks aren’t going to go away and in fact will get worse when the 6 month grace period ends on 1 July.

Oysters have been caught on the Fal since at least 1602. Now, that whole way of life is being lost. The Cornish shellfish industry has been left high and dry and many jobs have already gone. We are set to lose many more in Cornwall if our Cornish Environment Secretary, George Eustice, doesn’t start fighting for Cornish jobs and businesses.

The internet was alive this week with a webcast of a parish council meeting in Cheshire. The councillors were so out of control that a troubleshooting official of the Association of Local Councils, called Jackie Weaver, had been sent in to knock them into shape so they could do the work of looking after the village without their egos getting in the way. She was yelled at and abused but kept her cool and shut the worst offenders out on the Zoom naughty step. It was funny, but serious points are raised in light of the upcoming local elections when we will be choosing our councillors. This bad behaviour is part of the reason that many good individuals are lost to community decision-making. Local councils matter more and more these days as important services like libraries, toilets and parks are passed over to them. They have bigger budgets, more responsibility and are not an arena to play out turf wars. We shouldn’t need Jackie Weavers to police them.

The Falmouth Packet

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