Arbroath Smokie “relies upon” EU protected status

Mike Weir MP at the town's Harbour.
Mike Weir MP at the town's Harbour.

Angus MP Mike Weir has voiced concerns that a post-Brexit trade deal could blow the Arbroath Smokie’s protected status out of the water.

MPs debated the content of the UK Government’s Brexit White Paper this week after Prime Minister Theresa May was given the green light in a House of Commons vote to invoke Article 50.

The white paper contained a 93-word paragraph devoted to the fishing industry – including an admission that the European Union may continue to fish in UK waters after a split – Weir is worried the Smokie’s place in the Protected Geographic Indicator (PGI) list is under threat.

Since 2004, the Arbroath Smokie has been placed on a list of 76 protected food names across the UK, comprising of the likes of Scotch Beef and Scottish Farmed Salmon from Scotland.

The PGI for the Arbroath Smokie states that the fish must be caught within a five mile radius of the Angus coastal town to earn their status.

Speaking on his official Facebook page, Mr Weir said: “The Arbroath Smokie benefits from having Protected Geographic Indicator status within the EU. This means that no-one else can sell smoked fish and claim it as an Arbroath Smokie.

“This protection is throughout the 28 countries within the EU and is also included in any trade negotiations the EU enters into. This, ultimately, gives the Smokie protection throughout the world.

“If we leave the EU, the UK would have to try and get that protection into every single trade deal it does around the world.

“Do you really think they will look after the interests of the Arbroath Smokie when organising trade deals?

“Leaving the EU could have a disastrous effect on the Arbroath Smokie and on many other food and drink products.

“Food and drink is one of our booming trade industries. It relies upon the protection granted by the EU. If we leave, we lose these.”

Mr Weir also spoke of the change to the fishing industry in Arbroath since the UK agreed to join the European Union in 1973.

He explained: “When I grew up, Arbroath was an important and bustling fishing town.

“Unfortunately, when we first entered the EU the then Tory Government sold the fishing industry down the river.

“Since then Arbroath has successfully re-invented itself as a marina, although there is still some in shore fishing that goes on here.

“It is deeply ironic, therefore, that as the Tory Government tries to take us out of the EU, there is a real danger they will destroy the remaining fishing heritage in the town.”