Fishermen aim for big catch
TRADE DEAL: CAPTAIN HOPEFUL DECLINE IN UK’S ONCE-BOOMING INDUSTRY CAN BE REVERSED
Fishing accounts for 0.1% of UK economic output but is key to Brexit.
Just before dawn, the Good Fellowship trawler casts its nets deep into the North Sea’s cold swirling waters, fishing for prawns off England’s northeast coast.
Britain finally departs the European Union on Friday but remains bound by the bloc’s Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) until the end of a transition period, on 31 December.
The Good Fellowship’s captain, David Shiel, is cautiously hopeful that Brexit can help reverse decades of decline in the UK’s once-booming fishing industry that has been blamed, partly, on EU membership allowing foreign vessels to fish in British waters.
In pitch blackness, the small vessel embarks upon a day-long trip from the port town of North his ship out of North Shields.
While fishing accounts for less than 0.1% of UK economic output, it played a key role in the 2016 referendum in favour of exiting the EU.
The CFP permits European Union vessels equal access to the fishing grounds of other member states, provided that they comply with quotas.
Shiel, 52, who lives in the northeast town of Seahouses, argues that this permits rival EU fishermen to catch an unfair amount of fish from UK waters.
Following Brexit, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Conservative government is planning legislation to exclude foreign vessels.
However, a Brussels-based EU diplomat said that finding an accord on fishing access to British waters was a prerequisite for striking an overall deal on Britain’s new trade relationship with the bloc.
Indeed, many UK trawlermen believe they could be sacrificed for Britain winning deals for its key service sectors, led by London’s financial industry.
“We’ve got to be looking at a bigger picture to get better sustainable fishing for our own country,” insisted Shiel. – AFP