EU fishermen will be forced to land catch in Grimsby docks after Brexit, says Ukip's Mike Hookem

By Grimsby Telegraph | Posted: 12 May 2017

UKIP's Grimsby election candidate has revealed that his party would repeal all access rights for EU fishermen in UK waters – and then make them pay for any future privileges.

Mike Hookem, a Humber MEP and the party's fisheries spokesman, made the announcement at his 'Future for Fishing' policy launch in Westminster on Thursday.

Introduced by party leader Paul Nuttall, Mr Hookem said "only Ukip" was "fully committed to supporting our fishing industry and reclaiming our 200-mile exclusive economic zone" after Brexit.

Mr Hookem said, quoting figures from Brexit campaign group Fishing for Leave, that the industry nationally could be worth £6.3billion from "net to plate" if its potential was realised.

He called for the repeal of the European Union's Common Fisheries Policy, the UK's withdrawal from the 1964 London Convention (which gave pre-EU rights for European countries to fish British waters) and the creation of new domestic fishing regulations.

The Grimsby MP-hopeful, who grew up in Hull's Hessle Road fishing community, said the Tories were preparing to "betray" the UK's fishermen in the Brexit negotiations, while Labour were "unwilling to confirm what their Brexit policy will be".

"I demand that the government make fisheries a red-line in the coming negotiations," he told journalists yesterday.

"Despite some Conservatives talking tough on fishing, no action has been taken to convince me they have any intention of protecting the industry or reclaiming our waters."

In order to bring in cash to reinvest in ship building and modernise largely redundant docks like Grimsby's, Mr Hookem confirmed "selected" foreign vessels would be allowed – for a "time-limited period" – to apply for licences to fish in British waters.

But the caveat would be that all their catch must be landed and processed in the UK.

Mr Hookem said: "If you want to come into our waters, you get a licence. And in that licence, it will state that you must land that fish caught in British waters in British ports, processed in British factories with British workers."

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He confirmed to the Grimsby Telegraph that his current policy was focused on ensuring that only small British vessels should be allowed to fish Britain's 6-to-12 mile shore limit.

Deep sea fishing agreements with the likes of Norway and Iceland would come at the next stage, he said.

"At this stage we're talking about 10-15 metre vessels – the deep sea fishing comes later on," he confirmed.

Responding to Mr Hookem's policy announcements, Melanie Onn said she had challenged the Conservative government "again and again" on its plan for the industry's recovery while serving as the town's MP over the last two years.

The Labour candidate in Great Grimsby said the "silence so far has been deafening" and stated that it would take a "strong local voice" to "hold the government to the promises made to our local industries."

Tory challenger Jo Gideon said her party would follow a similar line to Ukip in wanting to "withdraw from the Common Fisheries Policy".

The ex-Scunthorpe candidate, who hails from Kent, said the Tories saw Brexit as a "major opportunity for the UK fishing industry" and were "committed to withdrawing from the Common Fisheries Policy and putting in place a new fisheries regime".

She said the Tory policy for creating a "more modern, profitable and sustainable" industry would be "unveiled soon".

Steve Beasant, representing the Liberal Democrats at the election, said he did not see the fishing industry reclaiming its boom days of the 1950s.

"I would love to say that after Brexit we will see the return of fishing trawlers returning to our docks but, to put it simply, I don't think you can really trust anyone if they say that the glory days are going to return," said the East Marsh councillor.

"What we now have to focus is bringing industry back to our docks and we must now be at the forefront of renewable energy."

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