Brexit: Fishing industry was ‘lied’ to claims Luke Pollard
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Brexit fury has exploded after claims the UK fishing industry is “on its after legs” with Boris Johnson and the Tories accused of “stabbing fishermen in the back” over the deal with the European Union. The former Prime Minister had promised to protect the industry and insisted the UK would “take back control” of its waters before signing a trade deal with Brussels more than three years ago. The fishing agreement states there would be a five-year transition period that would see EU boats continue to gain access to UK waters until 2026. At the time, Mr Johnson admitted some concessions had been made in talks with the EU.
June Mummery, the former MEP for East of England and founder of Renaissance of the East Anglian Fisheries, has launched a furious attack against the Tories, warning the UK fishing industry is now struggling to survive.
She told Express.co.uk: “What fishing industry? We’ve completely lost it. The industry is practically gone and is on its last legs.
“The UK has not taken back control of its waters. Lord Frost negotiated that deal and he sold out the UK fishing industry.
“Boris and the Tories have always used fishing as a last resort for a vote. There are 186 coastal MPs and every one of them, except two, voted for that deal.
“All of those MPs that voted for that deal have to go because they don’t realise that fishing in a deprived town, like Lowestoft, Great Yarmouth, Grimsby, Hartlepool, Hull – that is their natural resource and what kept those towns going.”
“UK fishermen don’t want to go into EU waters. We have some of the richest fishing grounds in the world and the UK could be, and should be, as profitable and sustainable as the Faroe Islands, Norway and Iceland.”
Ms Mummery claimed UK fishermen and coastal communities have been “stabbed in the back” because despite leaving the EU after more than 40 years of membership, the UK has still not taken back control of its own fishing stocks.
She accused Mr Johnson of “giving the EU our fishing waters” and is furious that huge European supertrawlers are going unmonitored and are still able to fish so close to British coasts.
The former MEP said: “UK fishermen have been betrayed and stabbed in the back. This is a double whammy – fishermen feel stabbed in the back but coastal communities also feel stabbed in the back because they have waited over 40 years to take back that fish as resource.
“At the eleventh hour, Boris has given the EU our fishing waters. He cannot deny that or get out of that. We’re supposed to be taking back control of 200nautical miles of waters.
“Foreign boats are only supposed to come up to the 12 mile exclusion zone of British coasts but they are coming all the way up to the six mile exclusion zones.
“You still have 1,700 EU vessels in our waters and eight of those are super trawlers. They aren’t monitored so nobody is going onboard to check what they are catching.”
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Ms Mummery launched a final furious attack against Mr Johnson, accusing the former Prime Minister of “lying” to the UK fishing industry and claiming the Government has “betrayed” coastal towns.
She concluded: UK fishermen are skint and on the bones of their backsides. We had the Covid pandemic and the hospitality sector shut down. Who on earth would invest in fishing in this country?
“Boris gave Emmanuel Macron 70 more fishing licences last year, free of charge. A fishing licence for a young lad leaving school is around £100,000.
“You have fishing towns like Grimsby, Hull, Lowestoft, Great Yarmouth and Hartlepool, but Boris has literally stolen all of their opportunities and aspirations. He lied to us all.”
She concluded: “The UK Government has betrayed coastal towns, villages and communities. You stabbed fishermen in the back and what the hell are you going to do about it? The industry is just about finished.”
Shortly after the trade deal with the EU was signed, then-Prime Minister Mr Johnson admitted concessions were made to Brussels but insisted for the first time since 1973, the UK would have “full control” of its waters.
He said at the time: “The EU began with I think wanting a transition period of 14 years, we wanted three years, we’ve ended up at five years.
“That was a reasonable transition period and I can assure great fish fanatics in this country that we will as a result of this deal be able to catch and eat quite prodigious quantities of extra fish.
“For the first time since 1973 we will be an independent coastal state with full control of our waters with the UK’s share of fish in our waters rising substantially from roughly half today to closer to two thirds in five-and-a-half years’ time.
“After that, there is no theoretical limits beyond those placed by science or conservation on the quantity of our own fish that we can fish in our waters.”
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