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News Archive > General > Fishing industry ‘sold down the river’ to get Brexit deal

Fishing industry ‘sold down the river’ to get Brexit deal

By Warren Wilkins 6th January 2021

Fishing industry ‘sold down the river’ to get Brexit deal

Newquay’s harbour community has accused the Government of “selling the fishing industry down the river” to get a Brexit free trade deal.

Fishermen say they did not get the increase in fishing quotas they were promised, or the 12-mile exclusion zone to stop foreign trawlers fishing in local waters.

Newquay MP Steve Double had been given assurances in Parliament by Cabinet member Michael Gove that “access to our waters will be on our terms” not the EU’s Common Fisheries Policy.

Newquay fishermen had called for a 12-mile exclusion zone saying they suffer financially because French trawlermen fish off the coast.

Local shell fishermen say they have lost thousands of pounds worth of pots that become tangled in French trawler nets.

They have also lost out because large, 18-metre French trawlers have caught huge stocks of species including John Dory, plaice, monkfish and turbot.

Fisherman Martin Gilbert, who passionately backed Brexit in the belief Newquay fishermen would be better off, said: “Newquay fishermen have been sold down the river. “We had hoped the fishing industry would get a better deal.

“We did not get the real major increase in quotas and we also hoped to get the 12-mile limit but nothing has come of it. “The Government has given the fishing industry away to help reach a Brexit deal. “They got the free trade tariffs they wanted but we didn’t get the tariffs we wanted.”

Newquay central Cornwall councillor Geoff Brown, who is a long-time member of the harbour community, which his constituency covers, says the local fishermen have been “betrayed” by “broken promises.” Cllr Brown, who successfully campaigned in 2020 for special government support for small boat fishermen after the appalling weather the previous winter and the ravages of covid, said: “Our fishermen have been sold down the river.

“I am disappointed that all our Cornwall MPs voted for the Brexit deal despite the poor outcome for our fishermen. “The great ‘new deal’ that Boris has signed with the EU is a betrayal of our hard-working fishermen.

“When campaigning for Brexit he promised our fishermen that in return for their support they would regain territorial waters up to 12 miles and control quota allocations. “Instead the fishing industry will receive only 25 per cent of their quota over the next five years, followed by yet another uncertain negotiation.

“There are no territorial limits with many foreign EU vessels continuing to fish up to six miles from our shores whilst, ironically, our own larger vessels are forced to stay outside 12 miles in our own waters. Quite bizarre.

“Clearly our Government think very little of an industry so key to the survival of our coastal communities with broken promises and the UK government actually allowing about 40 per cent of English fish quota to be sold to other EU countries, something which no other country in Europe has permitted.

“Our fishermen have been betrayed with broken promises and the export of their prime shellfish catch is in jeopardy due to new export regulations. “Even our MPs admit that it was not a great deal for the fishermen but despite there being no danger of the deal being rejected with known Labour support, every single one backed a Government who see little value in one of our key industries.”

Newquay and St Austell MP Steve Double said: “I have not heard from any fishermen in Newquay with concerns about the UK-EU trade deal, but if they wish to contact me I would be happy to discuss with them and work to ensure they are fully supported.” “The trade deal is not perfect but it is a big step in the right direction.

Although EU vessels can access our waters during the transition period that has been agreed, it is now with our agreement and under our licence where we will be able to set the conditions. “We can work with this to the advantage of our fishermen and communities like Newquay, along with the additional millions in funding the Government is making available to support fishing communities, to ensure our fishing fleets are well prepared to take advantage of the end of the transition period.”

By Warren Wilkins 6th January 2021

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