Fish­er­men aim for big catch


The Citizen (KZN) - - World - North Shields

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

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