Spain's Agriculture, Fisheries and Food minister Luis Planas admitted the fishing industry could suffer dramatic consequences with a no-deal Brexit, one of several options after this week's parliament events in London. Minister Planas had revealed that in the case of a hard-Brexit, all Spanish fishing vessels will have to immediately abandon United Kingdom waters immediately.
For Spain fisheries is one of the main conflict issues and most dramatic in the European Union/United Kingdom Brexit negotiations added the minister. It is estimated that some 200 fishing vessels with Spanish associates are operating under different flags in UK waters.
We have 80 Spanish vessels in UK fisheries plus another 21 with British and Spanish partners. There are another one hundred vessels flying German, French, Irish and Netherlands flags, with Spanish associates, plus the 25 from Vigo in the Falkland Islands and another 19 operating with the Falklands ensign, pointed out minister Planas.
The minister recalled that the Spanish fishing industry leads in the EU, and Spain worked hard so that the Brexit deal reached between the EU and UK last December was most satisfactory for our industry, but now that it has been rejected by the UK parliament we have been left with a huge question sign as to what are the next steps.
Fishing has been one of the great symbols of the negotiation, and I want to be optimistic. If there is a sector capable of adapting that is fisheries, with the support of government, said Planas.
UK represents 8% of Spain food exports with fruit, vegetables, olive oil, wine and pork as the main items, while UK supplies 3% of Spain's food imports mainly spirits and fish.
Planas explained that his ministry is working on the worse scenario, but even with a hard Brexit, for a short period trade will continue to be ruled by the same current norms. Likewise in case of logistic problems in the port of Calais, Spain is working on the possibility to reinforce the Santander-Portsmouth link as a possible alternative, if Spanish merchandise are blocked.
The minister also confirmed that Madrid is drafting a decree on the origin and traceability of honey as currently happens with milk, although these are considered exceptional actions and will not be extensive to all agriculture and food produce.
But following this week's events in which the British parliament rejected overwhelmingly the Brexit deal of Prime Minister Theresa May and Brussels, and the growing possibility of a hard Brexit, Spain's fish industry and farming sector are demanding contingency plans from Madrid.
The chairman of Spain's fishing vessels owners, Cepesa, and also president of the EU Europeche lobby, Javier Garat has requested the European Community and member states to prepare the necessary measures to mitigate the impact on the fishing fleet of a hard Brexit.
Likewise, Fepex, the Spanish organization of fruit and vegetables exporters anticipates extremely serious economic consequences from a hard Brexit particularly in Murcia, Andalusia and the Valencia community. Fepex fears exports would have to comply with Customs paperwork, inspections, pay import tariffs and present phytosanitary licenses demanded by the UK.
To this effect the Spanish government has opened a website to inform on the situation and prepare citizens and companies for the different possible scenarios.