You’ve blown it, Boris! Hundreds of fishermen abandoned as crucial Norway deal collapses

Fishing chief discusses ‘unworkable’ EU legislation

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Yesterday’s decision means the UK has no rights to fish in Norwegian sub-Arctic waters in 2021 with hundreds of crewmen left high and dry – and the Kirkella, the UK’s largest fishing vessel, moored up in Hull with no prospect of making any journeys to sea in the near future. The board of UK Fisheries, which owns the boat, is now meeting to decide what presence it can have in Hull, with no viable fishing opportunities in its traditional grounds.

I am absolutely disgusted

Karl Turner

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.”

Mr Turner found an unlikely ally in former Brexit Party MEP Ben Habib, who was similarly unimpressed.

He told “The government has failed our coastal communities. They were used by the Prime Minister and Michael Gove to win the referendum.

“They were used by them again to win the general election. As soon as those electoral victories were in the bag, these two turned their backs on them.

“The failure to agree a deal with Norway is yet another nail, in a long line of nails, in the coffin of our fishing industry.”

Mr Habib added: “While Westminster fusses over £58,000 spent on the Prime Minister’s curtains, millions of people across the country are losing their livelihoods as a result of his broken promises.

“So much for taking back control of our waters and for levelling up the country.”

Referring to the cash injection announced by Environment Secretary George Eustice earlier this year for coastal communities, he added: “The paltry handout of £100 million is an insult.

“The sum is a pittance and these people do not seek charity; they seek to exercise their right to earn a fair wage.”

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Jayne Adye, director of the Get Britain Out campaign, said: “The total failure of the Government to secure a post-Brexit deal with Norway over distant water fishing is yet another example of the misplaced priorities we have seen for the last four months.

“This is an industry which contributes hundreds of millions of pounds to the UK economy and is based in the Humber region, which has for decades faced a lack of investment.

“The Government cannot claim to be ‘levelling-up’ the whole country, if they are putting the jobs of hundreds of people in our coastal regions at risk.”

She added: “If the Government really wants to win votes in the upcoming elections, then perhaps they should stop the scripted photo-opportunities and focus on solving the real problems affecting people’s everyday lives.”

Striking a deal with Norway over fishing in their sub-Arctic waters should have been a priority for the Government and Mr Eustice, Mrs Adye suggested.

She added: “Otherwise we will be forced to buy fish directly from Norway, increasing the price of cod and chips on our plates every week.

“However, for Eustice’s Fishing Minister, Victoria Prentis, she was too busy organising a Nativity to actually read the new UK-EU fishing deal. It seems Mr Eustice is simply letting these vital issues pass him by.”

“Whether it is helping the distant water fishing industry or ending the EU ban on UK shellfish, DEFRA, and the Government as a whole, have failed our fishing industry time and again.

Mrs Adye said: “These are people who backed Brexit and voted for the Government – many for the first time – fishermen, who in the first year after Brexit are being left behind by a Westminster bubble which seems set against taking advantage of the opportunities of Brexit, instead focusing on nonsense stories about who paid for wallpaper!”

A statement issued by Defra after yesterday’s meeting with Norwegian officials 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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