Brexit fishing crisis: British fishermen lash out at Tory MPs – ‘We have been abandoned!’

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The National Federation of Fishermen’s Organisations (NFFO) has claimed that the “most vociferous supporters” in the Tory party have gone “very quiet” since Prime Minister Boris Johnson signed the Brexit trade deal back in December.

Barrie Deas, chief executive of the NFFO, said: “Those Conservative MPs that were our most vociferous supporters were very quiet about the implications of the TCA [trade and cooperation agreement].

“That’s the world that we’re having to adjust to.

“The European Research Group, for example, quite often referred to fishing as a poster child [for Brexit] but I don’t think any of them came out and said this is a bad deal for fishing.

“Their eye was on the main prize, which of course was the trade agreement.”

Mr Deas added how the fishing industry was “looking forward” to the UK being an independent coastal state but has since claimed they have been sacrificed.

He continued: “It’s really quite hard to convey how sudden the industry’s fall from grace was.

“In December last year we were the kind of the poster child for Brexit, and we were very much looking forward to a future as an independent coastal state, with very, very solid assurances given by the Prime Minister, Lord Frost, and senior members of the cabinet over control over who fishes in UK waters and escape from the Common Fisheries Policy – and quota shares that reflected our new status as an independent coastal state.

“And then, from Christmas Eve, really, the Government in an eerie echo of Ted Heath’s betrayal – as it’s seen in the industry – in 1973 where fishing was sacrificed, despite all the assurances and promises.

“That deal was made in order to secure the broader advantages that would be attached to a trade deal with the EU.”

Under the trade deal secured by Mr Johnson, the EU was allowed to keep 75 percent of the value of the fish it now catches in UK waters, with 25 percent being returned to British fishermen over a transition period until June 2026.

From 2026, Britain will be able to cut quotas or exclude boats in a zone of 6-12 nautical miles.

The UK left the EU’s Common Fisheries Policy and now manages its own territorial waters.

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The area comprises up to 12 nautical miles from the shores of Britain and the Exclusive Economic Zone, which stretches 200 nautical miles.

The UK Single Issuing Authority (SIA) has been set up to issue licences to both UK and non-UK vessels authorising access to UK waters to fish.

This is not the first time British fishermen have hit back at the deal Mr Johnson signed with the EU.

Last month, skipper Graham Nicholas said he would never vote again as the Government have sold fishermen “down the f***ing river”.

He told the Independent: “I voted [Tory] at the last election to get Brexit done, and they’ve sold us down the f***ing river.

“I’d never vote again except they say you can’t moan if you don’t vote – and I’ll admit I like a good moan.”

Back in January, weeks after the UK departed the EU single market, Mr Johnson was forced to pay out £23million to compensate the fishing industry caused by Brexit red tape.

The Prime Minister said at the time: “Insofar as there are problems at the moment, caused by teething problems, people not filling in the right forms, or misunderstandings, when it is not peoples’ fault, of course we are going to compensate and to help out, and funds have been put in place to do that.

“But be in no doubt that there are great opportunities for fishermen across the whole of the UK to take advantage of, the spectacular marine wealth of the United Kingdom.”

He added: “Where businesses, through no fault of their own, have faced difficulties exporting where there is a genuine willing buyer, there’s a £23 million fund to help out.”

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