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The University of Southampton

COVID-19 and Brexit combine in watershed moment for sustainable commercial fishing

Published: 20 July 2020
Fishing boat
There has been a slowdown in commercial fishing during the COVID-19 pandemic and Brexit negotiations

Ecological engineering experts have set out how the UK can start to recover its fish stocks by taking advantage of a slowdown caused by Brexit and the COVID-19 pandemic.

A new study by the University of Southampton, the GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research and the Sea Around Us initiative at the University of British Columbia has proposed new fishing targets and a “blue belt” of Marine Protected Areas around the UK coast.

The reduction in commercial fishing caused by the COVID-19 pandemic has seen pressure on some threatened species fall to levels not seen since World War II. The pandemic has coincided with Brexit, which will unbind the UK from rules through which European fishing fleets and fish stocks are managed.

Professor Paul Kemp, lead author from Southampton’s School of Engineering, says: “Brexit divided the UK and the whole world has been challenged by the global health pandemic. However, regardless of how people voted, UK politicians have the chance to bring people together over a common goal that supports fishing communities, wider society and environmental sustainability.

“The opportunity is there but it will require political vision; with the necessary strength of character the negotiators can deliver a positive outcome from the combined systemic shocks of Brexit and COVID-19.”

Read the full story on the main news page.

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