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Brexit impact on lobster industry

Researchers at the University of Hull are carrying out a major study which aims to minimise the threat posed by Brexit to East Yorkshire's thriving lobster industry.

The Holderness coast, one the most important shellfishing regions in Europe, exports more than 80% of its catch to the EU.

Realising that any disruption of access to the EU market could be hugely damaging to the local economy, the North Eastern Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority (NEIFCA) decided to act.

It commissioned Hull University Business School to carry out a study to explore potential new markets, both at home and overseas.

Jeremy Wilcock, Business Development Manager at  the Business School, identified that the live lobsters caught off East Yorkshire were of higher quality than the frozen ones generally sold in UK.

The study is looking at how more domestic demand and consumer awareness of British-caught live lobsters could be created.

It involves surveying the views of stakeholders including merchants, distributors, retailers, buyers in major supermarkets, restaurants and hotels and the general public.

We need to find out if more domestic demand can be created. People don't realise this high-quality product is going straight past the UK market. Jeremy Wilcock,
Business Development Manager, Hull University

It will also examine consumer attitudes towards lobsters - asking, for example, whether people have been put off by poor quality frozen lobsters or whether they see them as an unaffordable luxury.

Mr Wilcock said: "We need to find out if more domestic demand can be created. People don't realise this high-quality product is going straight past the UK market."

He will also be looking at the potential to sell UL lobsters in other foreign markets beyond the EU, such as China.

Some 520 tonnes of lobsters are landed annually on the East Yorkshire coast. The fishery generates £35 million a year to the region's economy and supports 250 fishermen and 200 onshore jobs..

Mike Cohen, chief executive of the Holderness Fishing Industry Group (HIFG), said uncertainty over Brexit and access to the EU market was an important factor in commissioning the study.

"It will be interesting to see what the Hull University study produces - they are excellent in the field of marketing, with a good track record of analysing these situations and advising on them," he said.

David McCandless, chief fishery officer at  NEIFCA, described the study as a "very important and timely project".

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