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Hull University Business School research identifies post-Brexit markets for lobster trade


Helping Yorkshire coast fishermen protect their livelihoods by identifying alternative markets for their lobster catch, post-Brexit, is the focus of new research at Hull University Business School. 

With 80% of lobsters from the Holderness coast being exported to mainland Europe, the uncertainty over trade deals when the UK leaves the European Union puts the region’s lobster trade at risk.

Dr David Harness, who is leading the project to reduce the fishermen’s reliance on exporting to the EU, said:


“Lobster is a premium product but if access to the EU market changes, demand for Holderness Coast lobster could decline significantly – and this could have a significant impact on the fishermen’s income and their ability to support their families. At this point, suppliers outside of the EU typically pay up to 20% entry tariff to sell lobster in this market – and that would have a drastic effect on profits.”

TheHolderness Coasthas approximately65 registered fishing vesselswith145 people directly employedin this trade. In total, these businesses provide income for over 250 families.

The research project, which has been financed by the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund – awarded by the Holderness Coast Fisheries Local Action Group (FLAG), is focused on identifying a range of alternative markets to reduce reliance on markets in France, Spain and other countries in mainland Europe.

David McCandless, Chief Officer for North Eastern Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority, said:


“Maintaining and developing the lobster fishery remains critical to the long term future of the region’s commercial fishing industry. Faced with the uncertainty of Brexit, the University has enabled us to investigate opportunities to develop the fishery further and introduce our lobster to different markets beyond the EU.”

Peter Andrews, Senior Marketing Lecturer at the University of Hull, said:


“We have identified other markets including the Far East and Asia which value the premium quality of Holderness Coast lobster. We are working with the industry to meet the specific demands of entering these new markets.


“Fortunately Holderness Coast lobsters are part of a growth industry with demand outstripping supply across the world. By highlighting the development potential for the local industry, we are hopeful that we can help fishermen secure their commercial future.”

Protecting current revenue and recommendations on additional revenue capture to provide long term economic viability for the Holderness Coast will be the focus of the second phase of the project – subject to funding approval.

Every year a million lobsters are landed on the Holderness Coast. While 80% of the catch is exported to mainland Europe by road and sea, and 17% is transported to China and Japan by air, only 3% is consumed in the UK. The industry is worth £35 million to the local economy.


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