THE Welsh Fishermen’s Association has warned that many of its members may not survive a no deal Brexit.
Their main catch is shellfish, much of which is exported live into Europe and could be subject to tariffs and bureaucratic hold-ups after next March.
The association has said some businesses would not be able to hold on for more than four or five weeks after Brexit.
Despite repeated assurance from the UK government that it is pressing hard for a deal, fears that Britain could crash out of the EU next year are growing.
Wales has a fleet of around 450 vessels, many of them small boats under 10m in length, and they specialise in shellfish such as crabs, lobsters and mussels. Their catches are thought to be worth almost £40 million a year.
Sion Williams, a lobster and crab fisherman, who works near Nefyn, Gwynedd, told the BBC that the sector was becoming increasingly concerned the UK would leave the EU without a trade deal.
While many fishermen still harboured hopes of increased quotas after Brexit, he said maintaining access to European markets and current income levels was essential.
‘So much has been promised and people’s hopes have been raised. I don’t think anyone voted for things to get worse,’ Williams said.
‘Of all the food producers exporting to Europe, the shellfish sector would be the most vulnerable if we have no deal.
‘Any delay in the transit of these commodities will cause a lot of problems as they are live shellfish and they need to be supplied as soon as possible. If they’re held up in ports, they can deteriorate, lose value and even die.’