Fishing fleets set for a sea change at dawn of a new era
IN Peterhead yesterday, a Fishing for Leave flag fluttered in the gloom of the sea fog.
Down at the harbour, local fishermen were jubilant they will no longer have to settle for scraps from the Brussels table.
The North-East has been one of the heartlands of the Vote Leave campaign, in protest at EU fishing quotas.
The Aberdeenshire town is Europe’s largest white fish port and handles tens of millions of pounds of fish annually.
Yesterday, many locals noted the early morning fish market seemed bigger and busier than normal as it got under way around the same time as the Brexit result was officially announced.
Jimmy Buchan, 55, star of the BBC’s Trawlermen series and a Peterhead fisherman for more than 40 years, said: ‘It’s a fantastic opportunity for Scotland and the UK to start a new chapter on our relationship with Europe.
‘I’ve witnessed colleagues and friends forced out of business and lose their livelihoods, all under the supreme governance of the EU. Britain exiting the EU gives us the chance to redefine our position in the world.’
Peterhead is mostly covered by the Banffshire and Buchan Coast constituency, where Remain won 14,918 votes – and Leave 23,707.
Much of the controversy around EU fisheries policy stems from the fact that British fleets are allocated lower quotas than other nations. In 2015, for example, British fishermen were only allocated 5 per cent of mackerel and 4 per cent of sprat quotas.
Stephen Bruce set up a mobile fishmonger business in Peterhead earlier
‘A fantastic product’
this year after finding himself out of work due to the downturn in the oil industry.
Mr Bruce, 55, said: ‘I promote Peterhead fish and I just think whatever happens we’ve got a fantastic product here.
‘Europe will still require our fish. I’ve got no worries about it, we’ve got some
of the best fish in Europe. They have to get it from someone, so I don’t think it will affect the exports at all.
‘I think for the fishing industry it’s not a bad thing. The whole picture overall, only time will tell. But for the fishing industry it’s a good move. Being dictated to from Brussels has been very bad for the industry.’
A local woman said her Brexit vote was a show of support for a fishing fleet she claims the EU had attempted to destroy.
She added: ‘They have decimated that fleet. It’s shocking what has happened over the last 30 years.
‘The number of boats in the harbour has just got smaller and smaller and it’s all down to the quotas.
‘Leaving the EU is the best thing that could happen to what’s left of them. Let them take back some control.’
Delighted to leave the EU: The scene in Peterhead, Aberdeenshire, yesterday