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The UK fishing industry feels smeared and misled after Brexit vote

Members of the UK’s fishing industry feel they were unfairly portrayed and misled during and after the EU Referendum, according to new research from foul weather fishing gear manufacturer Stormline.

The study, involving more than 700 people working in the UK fishing industry and the first to measure sentiment toward the mainstream media among fishing industry professionals, found that 80% believed the media’s campaign coverage was misleading and 78% felt that the industry on the whole was portrayed unfairly. Of the Leave voters who felt the industry was portrayed unfairly, 81% complained that the media portrayed them as being ‘racist’.

8% of Leave voters who felt they were portrayed unfairly complained they were portrayed as racist, xenophobic, selfish and out-of-touch.

On the whole, the study found that the vast majority of UK fishing professionals felt marginalised in some way by the referendum campaigning. Only 8% said they felt the media treated the industry fairly and 2% felt the mainstream media was generous in its portrayal of the fishing industry.

7% of UK fishing industry professionals said they ignored mainstream media coverage of the EU Referendum and 13% say they ignored the mainstream media’s portrayal of the industry.

uk fishing industry - media coverage

Regan McMillan, director of Stormline, said:

“Britain’s membership of the EU has had a direct and material impact on the lives of people working in the fishing industry for many years. Some blame EU fishing quotas for the decline of the British fishing industry, others in the industry believe the EU has had a positive impact on British fishing.

“Regardless of how they voted, anyone who relies on the fishing industry will have had to consider how their decision impacts on their own livelihood and future. For many, this will have been the main factor that drove their decision.

“Yet one of the most dominant post-Brexit narratives was that Leave voters were either racist, out-of-touch, or they were tricked. For any person that relies on the fishing industry for their livelihood – and who put a lot of thought into their vote – this accusation will be hard to stomach.

“Our study shows that both Leave and Remain voters in the industry felt marginalised and misled by parts of the mainstream media.”


Study findings in full

On the media’s campaign coverage


Thinking about the media’s coverage of the Referendum campaign, how do you feel now? Leave voters Remain voters Weighted average*
I felt misled 82% 66% 80.24%
I felt well-informed 6% 18% 7.32%
I ignored mainstream campaign coverage 7% 6% 6.89%
I felt neither misled nor well-informed 5% 10% 5.55%


On the media’s portrayal of the UK fishing industry


As part of the fishing industry, how do you feel you were portrayed by the media? Leave voters Remain voters Weighted average*
I was treated unfairly 79% 68% 77.79%
I was treated fairly 6% 21% 7.65%
I was treated generously 2% 4% 2.22%
I ignored the mainstream media’s portrayal of the industry 13% 7% 12.34%


To those who felt unfairly treated


Why do you feel this way? Leave voters Remain voters Weighted average*
I feel I was portrayed as being racist 81% 1% 72.20%
I feel I was portrayed as being xenophobic 6% 3% 5.67%
I feel I was portrayed as being selfish 4% 66% 10.82%
I feel I was portrayed as being out of touch 1% 30% 4.19%
All of the above 8% 0% 7.12%

*Of those who participated in the study, 89% voted Leave and 11% voted Remain. The ‘average’ cited above has been corrected to reflect this bias.

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