According to a new report, Brexit can cost Danish jobs and have large consequences for a number of Danish fishing ports. The report, which focused on Danish fisheries and Brexit, was commissioned by the Danish Government and produced by Aalborg University. The report estimates that fish worth DKK1bn (EUR134m) and between 272 and 844 Danish jobs are at risk if the British government excludes Danish fishermen from fishing in British waters. It is the first concrete estimate on the number of jobs at stake for Danish fishing in the negotiations on Brexit. The report bases its calculations on two scenarios, both of which imply that foreign fishermen are excluded from British waters. This will especially affect Skagen, Thyborøn, Hirtshals and Hanstholm, where Denmark’s largest fishing port is located. Søren Qvist Eliasen, lead author of the report, says Brexit will have a huge impact on these communities if it happens at once. On the other hand, he says these communities are highly dynamic and used to the fact that fishery resources fluctuate, and therefore “they are actually quite flexible.”
At the fish factory TripleNine in Thyborøn, fish from the British part of the North Sea is a major raw material in the production of fishmeal. The managing director of TripleNine’s department in Denmark, Peter Jensen says he is not thinking about it, but admits to being worried about the final outcome. The company has 140 employees in Esbjerg and Thyborøn and is owned by Danish fishermen. Last year TripleNine landed a profit of more than 100 million. Mr Jensen explains that a large reduction in the raw material will mean scaling down the factory with a concomitant loss of jobs. In total, a quarter of Danish fishermen catch in the British part of the North Sea. According to the report, there are 35 large Danish vessels fishing mainly for mackerel, herring, sandeel and sperling. They are able to do this because EU rules allow fishermen to fish their quota in all EU waters, a facility that the British government has said that it may want to close. Michael Gove, UK Fisheries Minister, told the BBC in an interview that Britain wanted to control and determine the conditions for access. “When we leave the EU, we become an independent coastal state, which means we can extend the control of our waters for up to 200 miles.” Karen Ellemann, Danish Fisheries Minister is preparing to negotiate fisheries with the other EU countries and Britain in the coming year. According to her, a hard Brexit that closes British waters to the EU will have major financial consequences for Danish fishing. Karen Ellemann hopes that the EU can reach an agreement with Britain such as it has with Norway giving it access to fishing in the British North Sea in the future.