Leaving the EU: Welsh Seafood

Oral Answers to Questions — Environment, Food and Rural Affairs – in the House of Commons on 9th May 2019.

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Photo of Michael Gove Michael Gove The Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

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.

Photo of Liz Saville-Roberts Liz Saville-Roberts Shadow PC Spokesperson (Home Affairs), Shadow PC Spokesperson (Women and Equalities) , Plaid Cymru Westminster Leader, Shadow PC Spokesperson (Justice), Shadow PC Spokesperson (Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)

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?

Photo of Michael Gove Michael Gove The Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

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, Jeremy Corbyn could not run a whelk stall.

Photo of George Eustice George Eustice Conservative, Camborne and Redruth

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?

Photo of Michael Gove Michael Gove The Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

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.