Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
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£360 million of UK seafood making a splash on European menus

85% of all UK shellfish exports headed for European shores in 2015, generating millions for the UK economy.

UK fishermen continue to benefit from easy access to the EU market, with 85% of all UK shellfish exports worth £360 million heading for European shores in 2015, Environment Secretary Elizabeth Truss said yesterday.

From seafood paella in Madrid to Coquilles Saint Jacques in Paris, the latest export figures show seafood caught off our shores has a prominent place on restaurant menus and supermarket shelves across Europe.

Since 2012, our scallop exports to France have leapt by almost 18% to the highest level since records began. Langoustine exports to Mediterranean countries like Spain were worth £80 million and salmon exports, to all 27 EU member states, worth £220 million to the economy in revenue in 2015.

UK fishermen currently have easy access to Europe, free from tariffs or other unnecessary red tape, but outside the EU the potential loss to fish and shellfish exporters could be up to £100m, with an average tariff of 10%.

Commenting on the latest export figures, Environment Secretary Elizabeth Truss said:

With the UK exporting twice as much seafood to Europe than to the rest of the world - from scallops to France and langoustines to Spain - £360 million of British seafood is heading for Europe’s markets, making a splash on their menus.

UK fishermen continue to reap the benefits of easy access, tariff-free, to the world’s largest single market of 500 million consumers. That is why it’s great to see UK companies flying the flag for our fishing industry in Brussels this week and using the opportunity to take advantage of easy access to the EU market.

Yesterday’s figures come as the world’s biggest Seafood Expo kicks off in Brussels this week with more than 140 countries, including the UK, promoting their seafood in an attempt to boost even more exports to Europe.

Exports of all UK fish and fish products to the EU were worth over £900 million to our growing economy in 2015, almost 70% of our total exports for the sector. In total, 60% of our food and drink exports go to the EU, worth over £11billion to our economy.

As part of the EU, the UK has automatic access to member state waters. By leading on the reform of the Common Fisheries Policy, the UK Government delivered a better deal for UK fishermen, securing changes including ending the wasteful practice of discarding, giving power back to countries and fishermen through regional fisheries management, and a legal commitment to fish sustainably.

Sustainable fishing has led to stock recovery, allowing significant quota increases for 2016 in iconic species like cod and haddock in the North Sea and plaice in the English Channel.

European dishes


While in Spain, many British tourists enjoy the tradition of eating a simmering pan of paella. The UK exports about £80 million worth of langoustines to Mediterranean countries each year, so this Spanish luxury will often be crowned by these delicacies caught off the coast of the UK.

Coquilles Saint Jacques

Closer to home, European countries including France are using our scallops for their dishes, like culinary classic ‘Coquilles Saint Jacques’. This dish sees sea scallops from the South West blanketed in a creamy sauce flavored with shallots, mushrooms and white wine.

Since 2012 exports of scallops to France from the UK have increased by 18%, with almost £60 million worth of scallops exported.

Further information

  • Seafood is the latest in a long list of export successes for the UK—food and drink exports were worth £18 billion last year.
  • Food and drink remains the country’s biggest manufacturing sector, with the food chain contributing £108 billion a year to our economy and employing 1 in 8 people.
  • On 26-28 April, 39 UK seafood companies and organisations are exhibiting in Brussels this week as part of the Seafood Expo, the world’s largest seafood trade event bringing together more than 26,000 groups from more than 140 countries.
  • The EU is the biggest economy in the world and carries significant weight in international trade negotiations.
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