No-deal Brexit would DECIMATE fishing industry, warns Falklands - 'DON'T forget about us'
The British overseas territory’s economy is based largely on fishing, with the industry accounting for 40 percent of its income.
The vast majority of catches (94 percent) landed by Falklands fishermen are sold to the European Union after being unloaded at ports in Spain.
But the islands’ government has warned that failure to secure a UK-EU free trade deal would put the industry at “significant risk”.
The Falkland Islands currently enjoy tariff-free access to the EU’s single market because of its status as a self-governing British territory.
Last year, more than 50,000 tons of fish including squid and hake were caught in the territory’s fishing grounds and transported across the Atlantic bound for Galicia, in northwestern Spain.
But with the prospect of a no-deal Brexit looming, continued single market access is in doubt.
Port Stanley says if Britain does not secure a free trade deal and falls back on to World Trade Organisation rules, minimum tariffs of between six and 18 percent would automatically apply to its fish exports.
The Falklands government warned such levies would hit sales and hammer the islands’ economy by as much as 16 percent and “some markets would be lost altogether”.
It said: “As a result of this, we estimate, in the event of a no-deal Brexit, potential annual losses to the fishing industry of up to 16% on fishing industry revenues.
“There would also be a direct negative impact on employment levels in the Islands and the wider economy.”
In a bid to raise awareness of the impacts Brexit could have on the islands, the territory’s government set up an exhibit at this week’s Labour Party Conference and plans to do the same at the annual Conservative event.
It has also launched a new website aimed solely at highlighting the potential pitfalls of a no-deal exit.
A recent post by the Falklands government on the site is entitled “We may be small and far away, but don’t forget about the Falkland Islands…”
It says: “We’re a British Overseas Territory, located 8,000 miles away from the United Kingdom in the South Atlantic.
“Despite our distance, we are very proud to be part of the UK family and in a recent referendum, 99.8 percent of Falkland Islanders voted to remain a British territory.
“Our population of 3,200 people – made up from over 60 nationalities – has worked very hard to build a very strong, self-sufficient economy which is thriving.
“However, our stable financial foundations are now at significant risk.”
Residents of the Falklands were not eligible to vote in the 2016 Brexit referendum because of the territory’s location outside of the EU.
Additional reporting by Maria Ortega.