Fisherwoman calls for 'more coverage' of responsible fishing
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And Trevor Datson said the sorry state of affairs contrasted sharply with the lofty promises of Prime Minister Boris Johnson prior to Britain quitting the European Union last year. Mr Datson is the spokesman for UK Fisheries Ltd, whose vessel Kirkella is currently unable to fish in the waters surrounding Norway because London has been unable to strike a bilateral deal with Olso.
To rub salt in the wound, a report published on Norway’s Fiskeribladet website suggests Norwegian fishermen are set to cash in in the absence of such a deal to the tune of well over £100million.
Mr Datson told Express.co.uk: “It makes very difficult reading for us and bears out everything we have said.
“We’ve put Kirkella in dry dock for routine maintenance just to try to make the best use of time when our British crews can’t fish but others – including the Norwegians – can.”
Talks with Norway aimed at thrashing out an agreement collapsed in April, with no prospect of a deal being agreed before 2022, leaving UK fishermen reliant on what are known as “distant waters” – ie non-UK waters – out of luck.
The situation had been perfectly avoidable given the time the UK Government – and Environment Secretary George Eustice – had had more than a year to strike a deal since leaving the bloc, Mr Datson stressed.
He added: “All we’ve ever asked for is to be able to continue fishing in the same way that we have for decades, but at the moment nothing we do or say is having an effect on a Government that just isn’t listening.
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“Is this the promise of a “sea of opportunity” for fishing that we were promised before Brexit? We don’t think so.”
Fiskeribladet’s report suggests Norwegian mackerel fishermen may be able to boost the value of their catches by £117m compared with last year, when the overall value was £235million.
Barrie Deas, chief executive of the National Federation of Fishing Organisation (NFF) stressed it was not necessarily all plain sailing for Norway’s fishermen.
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He explained: “It seems to me that Norway is taking a gamble the outcome of which depends on the migration pattern of mackerel.
“If the mackerel move strongly into Norwegian waters, with the higher quotas that Norway have allocated to themselves, they could be winners.
“If the fish take a different migration path, Norway may not be able to catch its quotas in its own waters or may only be able to catch poorer quality may be poor.”
He added: “The UK loses by not having access to the North East Arctic cod quota at North Norway.
“And there was an expectation that there could be quota exchanges of North Sea jointly managed stocks from Norway to the UK as part of the deal.”
Addressing UK Fisheries’ plight last month, Karl Turner, Labour MP for Hull, said: “I am absolutely disgusted – this Tory government’s broken promises are selling out fishermen and women at the worst possible time in Hull and across the UK.
“For years the industry have been warning that separate deals would need to be negotiated, but here we are in 2021 with the Kirkella tied up in Hull’s King George dock in East Hull.
“It is an incredibly sad day for my city, which has been let down and ignored by the government once again.
“Brexit was supposed to be the fishing industry’s salvation, yet Hull is having hundreds of jobs and millions in investment left high and dry.”
Also speaking last month in the wake of the collapse of the talks with Norway, a Defra spokesman said: “We have always been clear that we will only strike agreements if they are balanced and in the interests of the UK fishing industry
“We put forward a fair offer on access to UK waters and the exchange of fishing quotas, but we have concluded that our positions remain too far apart to reach an agreement this year.
“Norway is a key partner and we will continue to work with them over the course of the year.”
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