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Canadian seafood industry eyes UK market as free trade deal moves closer

Fish Update, UK

Canadian seafood industry eyes UK market as free trade deal moves closer

6 February 2013

The European Union and Canada are close to signing a free trade agreement which will almost certainly open the way for more Canadian fish and seafood imports into Britain.

Canadian fishermen who catch prawns and shellfish such as lobsters are likely to be the biggest winners. European Union Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht will be in Ottawa this week to meet Canada’s International Trade Minister Ed Fast when a free trade deal is expected to be finalised.
Such an agreement would give Canadian companies preferential access to an EU market of 500 million consumers in 27 member states with fish almost certain to be one of the main commodities.

Already the Canadian media is reporting that lobster fishermen in the eastern province of New Brunswick are closely monitoring the talks as they progress. They see Europe, and Britain in particular, as an important new market for New Brunswick lobster because at the moment the EU imposes a tariff of between six and 20 per cent on certain seafoods including lobster.

The province exports $455 million worth of lobster every year, but most of it is destined across the border to the United States. Robert Rioux, New Brunswick’s deputy minister of agriculture, aquaculture and fisheries, said ending the tariffs would mean more substantially more sales for the industry because Europe had such a large population.

One UK fishing centre anxious to see a free trade deal agreed will be Grimsby. It could open up big opportunities for Humber seafood processors especially those in the prawn and lobster business.

Two years ago Grimsby established friendship agreement with Cape Breton Island in Nova Scotia which was followed up with a visit to Canada. Wynne Griffiths, who was chairman of the Humber Seafood Institute at that time said he believed there were real opportunities for the Humber and Cape Breton. “The seafood processing industry on the Humber is totally dependent on imported raw materials. At the moment we’re bringing in around 70 species from over 30 countries. It’s a global industry so we have to go out and source that product globally."

Later the Canadians came over for the Humber Seafood Conference in Grimby.