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Leaving the EU: Welsh Seafood

Volume 659: debated on Thursday 9 May 2019

5. What discussions he has had with the Welsh Government on the potential effect of the UK leaving the EU on the Welsh seafood industry. (910780)

Ministers from across the four Administrations in the United Kingdom meet monthly at the inter-ministerial group for environment, food and rural affairs to discuss the negotiations with the EU. The most recent meeting was on 29 April in Cardiff, and we will continue to work together to secure the long-term profitability of the Welsh fishing industry as we leave the EU.

Fishing vessels at Porth Dinllaen and coastal communities around Wales land a whelk catch worth £6.2 million every year. Have the Welsh Government made any specific representations to Ministers to ensure that our fishermen do not face tariffs of 20% on exports to the crucial South Korean market after Brexit? Will he meet with me to discuss the importance of the seafood industry to Wales’s coastal economy?

I completely appreciate the vital importance of ensuring that the trade in whelks between Wales and South Korea is protected. One of the reasons why the Department for International Trade has prioritised making sure that we have continuity trade arrangements with South Korea is to ensure that Korean consumers can continue to enjoy this great Welsh product. The one threat to that trade would be the election of a Labour Government at the next general election because, as we all know, the right hon. Member for Islington North (Jeremy Corbyn) could not run a whelk stall.

I think that one probably requires a little bit of work and finesse, but it is only a matter of time. That was a first draft.

Welsh fishermen will be particularly interested in the application of the Hague preference since the ability to invoke it and, more importantly, counter-invoke it against the Irish Republic is critical to our interests. Will the Secretary of State confirm that the withdrawal agreement will protect our ability to invoke the Hague preference, because he will understand that it is not part of the common fisheries policy but a political convention that needs to be invoked each year?

My hon. Friend makes an important point. We will be able to continue to invoke the Hague preference in certain circumstances, and it is vital that we do so in defence of our interests.