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Europe's seafood industry faces more uncertainty after make-or-break Brexit vote

After losing the latest 'meaningful vote,' the government will hold a vote on Wednesday to determine whether lawmakers will allow the UK to leave without a deal -- a move that will have major implications for the seafood sector.

The future of Europe's fisheries and seafood industries remains clouded in uncertainty after UK lawmakers again rejected an agreement on the terms on the UK's withdrawal from the European Union.

As expected, members of the UK parliament voted against the deal, by a wide margin of 391 to 242.

The UK is due to leave the EU on March 29 at 11 pm local time. But after this vote, it is still unclear whether the country will leave on time or even at all amid growing calls for a delay and even a second referendum.

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Click here for full IntraFish coverage of Brexit's impact on seafood

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Another defeat

Brexit - Possible Trade Outcomes

No deal: Britain leaves the European Union with no formal agreement on the terms of UK's withdrawal or future trade relations.

Hard Brexit: Similar in nature to no deal. Few existing ties between the UK and the EU are retained. The UK gives up EU single market membership, access to free trade area with the aim of its setting its own trade deals and rules.

Soft Brexit: UK may remain in the single market or the customs union or both depending on terms of withdrawal agreement. EU insists link between single market access and free movement of goods, capital, services and labor is unbreakable.

Customs Union after Transition: Customs checks between EU and UK are eliminated. But the EU and UK charge common import tariffs to non-EU members.

Countries signed up to customs union must agree on a common trade policy, including whom to strike deals with, and when to set anti-dumping and retaliatory tariffs.

Norway-style deal: UK enters into EEA style agreement and remains in customs union. Frictionless trade.

This latest rejection of the agreement, after the government suffered the biggest defeat in UK parliamentary history in January, leaves seafood processing companies on both sides of the English Channel none the wiser as to how and whether customs checks will be implemented as the UK exits the trade bloc.

The outcome of the vote was awaited across Europe but nowhere more so than in the northeast processing hub of Grimsby and Europe's largest fish processing center Capécure in the French port of Boulogne sur Mer.

Following the vote, Germany's fish finger and sardine processors continue to sweat on the future of their raw material supplies.

At the same time, finding a new route for shellfish shipped from the Republic of Ireland and trucked through the UK before arriving into Dutch ports is a particular point of concern in the Netherlands.

After decades of complaining about the perceived unfairness of EU's Common Fisheries Policy (CFP), Scottish fishermen believed that the UK would finally regain control of fishing rights in its own waters. But that also remains unclear as fishing rights may become a bargaining chip in negotiations on a free trade deal offering coveted access to the EU's single market, something the UK holds under EU membership.

After losing the latest "meaningful vote" the government will hold a vote on Wednesday to determine whether lawmakers will allow the UK to leave without a deal.

Should lawmakers vote down no deal, a third vote will held this week offering them the opportunity to extend the UK's departure date, providing the EU agrees to this.

Businesses and not least the seafood industry have increasingly complained as the Brexit saga has dragged on that uncertainty piled upon uncertainty has made planning much beyond March 29 very difficult if not close to impossible.

Should lawmakers vote to kill off a no deal scenario and this be backed up by formal legislation processors may start to breathe a little easier, but a delay to proceedings with no sign of a way out of the current deadlock is likely to just to prolong their agony.

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