The waters that separate the United Kingdom from the Continent have always offered a natural barrier between nations as well as possibilities for connection and interrelationship. Brexit Herring traces shifting dynamics in herring fishing following the UK’s departure from the EU. It focuses on the changes within a fishing community on the east coast of England, who, along with many others, were promised a “sea of opportunity” by the Fishing for Leave campaign, replete with hundreds of thousands of tons of fish. Instead, with access to only a fraction of those stocks and few future prospects, they have been left alone to navigate this new sea of opportunity.
“They're now British fish and they're better and happier fish for it,” said British MP Jacob Rees-Mogg, envisioning a border to which wild fish in the North Sea would abide. By tracking herring, whose migration routes remain free of any notion of national frontiers or allegiances, Anastasia Eggers troubles the concept of borders in an intersecting, speculative dialogue between fishermen and fish. Through studies on collaboration in herring schools—their behavioral patterns in conditions of scarcity and abundance and their unionizing responses to predators—Brexit Herring questions the political and economic infrastructures and dynamics between the EU and the UK in relation to fisheries management in the North Sea as well as the potential for humans to exist collectively as herrings do.