UK fishing sector could be worth £2bn but Tories throwing it away

Brexit: Fishing industry was ‘lied’ to claims Luke Pollard

The UK fishing industry could easily double in value to an eye-watering £2billion but the Conservative Party have been accused of “throwing it all away” by one furious expert. Britain secured a post-Brexit fishing deal with the European Union at the 11th hour more than two years ago after several months of explosive rows over access to British waters. The agreement stated there would be a a five-year transition period that would see EU boats continue to gain some access to UK waters until 2026.

When the deal was signed, then-Prime Minister Boris Johnson admitted some concessions had been made with the EU, but insisted for the first time since 1973, the UK would have “full control” of its waters.

But this apparent promise has been torn apart by UK fishermen, with the chief executive of Fishing Forward UK – one of Europe’s richest fishing grounds – accusing the Government of quite literally missing the boat.

Alastair Inkstet told “The laws are there for the UK Government to be able to take control here. They simply need to apply them.

“The fishing industry in the Faroe Islands was worth £1billion and in the Shetland Islands last year it was worth around £128million or £138million.

“Shetland is around the same sea area as the Faroe Islands and they are next door to us. The UK fishing industry as whole could be worth £2billion.

He added: “It’s not just fishermen at sea – it’s all the peripheral jobs ashore in the service industry that go along with it.

“In the Shetlands, there are 4.5 people employed ashore for every one fisherman at sea and on the mainland, there are some eight people employed for every one fisherman at sea.

“It could be a massive industry for the UK but it is being thrown away.”

Mr Inkstet also shared the anger and frustration from UK fishermen in the Shetlands, where they have access to a mixed fishery with the most common species being Haddock, Cod, Megrim, Monkfish, Coley, Ling, Whiting and Plaice.

The Fishing Forward UK chief executive continued: The Brexit deal is not very positive and it’s not what UK fishermen were promised.

“We’re in the heart of the Shetlands – the biggest fishing region here in the north – and fishermen are completely miffed as they feel they have been terribly let down. The reaction here is not good at all.”

June Mummery, the former MEP for East of England and founder of Renaissance of the East Anglian Fisheries, has launched a furious attack against Mr Johnson and the Tory Government.

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She also told “UK fishermen have been betrayed and stabbed in the back.

“This is a double whammy – fishermen feel stabbed in the back but coastal communities also feel stabbed in the back because they have waited over 40 years to take back that fish as resource.

“At the eleventh hour, Boris has given the EU our fishing waters. He cannot deny or get out of that.”

When asked what her message to the UK Government would be, Ms Mummery lashed out: “They have betrayed coastal towns, villages and communities.

“You stabbed fishermen in the back and what the hell are you going to do about it? The industry is just about finished.”

Shortly after the trade deal with the EU was signed at the end of 2020, then-Prime Minister Mr Johnson admitted concessions were made to Brussels but insisted for the first time since 1973, the UK would have “full control” of its waters.

Asked which the UK and EU had conceded in the deal, Mr Johnson said: “It would be fair to say that we wanted to make sure for instance that we got complete control of our fisheries from the get go and that’s just to say we had annual negotiations on fisheries within the shortest possible delay.

The EU began with I think wanting a transition period of 14 years, we wanted three years, we’ve ended up at five years.

“That was a reasonable transition period and I can assure great fish fanatics in this country that we will as a result of this deal be able to catch and eat quite prodigious quantities of extra fish.

“For the first time since 1973 we will be an independent coastal state with full control of our waters with the UK’s share of fish in our waters rising substantially from roughly half today to closer to two thirds in five-and-a-half years’ time.

“After that, there is no theoretical limits beyond those placed by science or conservation on the quantity of our own fish that we can fish in our waters.”

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