Brixham Fish Market has posted Brexit-beating, record-breaking sales figures of £43.5m for the year 2021.

The port’s best-ever year for sales came amid predictions from pro-EU campaigners that leaving the European Union would destroy the UK’s fishing industry.

“We have shown there is a positive story to tell,” said Brixham Trawler Agents managing director Barry Young.

He said the port had succeeded by diversifying markets and increasing domestic sales.

And Brexiteer Brixham MP Anthony Mangnall said the success painted a positive picture for the future prosperity of the port.

In 2019, the value of fish landed at Brixham was £39.2m, then in 2020 the first year of the Covid pandemic saw the figure drop to £35.8m.

Now though, new figures reveal that precisely £43,631,862 worth of fish was landed on the quayside.

The figures will underline Brixham’s position as the most valuable fishing port in England and Wales.

Mr Young went on: “Despite the pandemic and rumours around the impact of Brexit we have seen both our sales to domestic markets and exports to the EU increase nicely.

“We are expecting 2022 to be an even bigger year.

“The combination of life outside of the EU and the pandemic has ensured that we have diversified our markets and looked to new opportunities.

“From increasing our domestic market sales to being well prepared for any bureaucratic changes, Brixham Fish Market has shown that there is a positive story to tell and it is well reflected in these record sales numbers.

“We are looking to see Brixham build upon this success and with some extra investment from the Fisheries and Seafood Scheme and Levelling Up Fund, we can continue to support this noble industry and this historic coastal community.”

Brixham’s fleet is a mix of local day boats and larger beam trawlers which remain at sea for five to seven days at a time.

They fish mainly in the English Channel but also operate in waters as far afield as the Bristol Channel and the Irish Sea. There are also a number of scallop boats that operate in local waters all year round.

More than 40 different species of fish are landed, with the main catches consisting of cuttlefish, lemon and Dover sole, squid, monkfish and turbot.

Other species landed include scallops, hake, bass, pollock and plaice.

Crews land their catch on the quayside to be sold at the daily Brixham Fish Market auction which attracts buyers from all around the UK and Europe.

Approximately 70 per cent of Brixham fish is exported to Europe – primarily Holland, France, Spain and Italy.

Mr Mangnall, who recently spent a weekend on board a Brixham trawler to gain first-hand experience of life at sea, added: “Brixham is an important indicator into the health of the fishing industry.

“Brixham Fish Market’s 2021 record-beating sales numbers paint a positive picture about the health of the industry and its potential to thrive over the coming years.

“The fishing community in Brixham and the Brixham Trawler Agents have worked incredibly hard to create new opportunities and ensure that this coastal community would continue to thrive throughout the pandemic.

“Despite the doom-mongering about life outside of the European Union, we have a clear example that shows the opportunities and the benefits that can be found through the UK as an independent trading nation.

“I am proud to represent the hard-working fishers of Brixham and I am doing all I can to help secure further investment into this port and the industry through the Fisheries and Seafood Scheme and the Levelling Up Fund.

“Both funds will help us to increase the size and capacity of the fish market helping us to achieve record sales year-on-year.”

Original story by guy Henderson on DevonLive