Fresh plans for fishing must 'deliver' for port of Grimsby, says Melanie Onn MP

By Grimsby Telegraph | Posted: 5 Jul 2018

Environment Secretary Michael Gove was said to have been furious when the details of the Brexit transition period were announced in March.

As part of the exit buffer arrangements, Theresa May agreed with the EU that Britain would remain in the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) until the transition period was over in December 2020.

The promise flew in the face of what the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) had been telling fishing communities – that Britain would take back control of its waters as soon as the Article 50 countdown was over in March 2019.

Mr Gove was said to be despairing at the decision during private meetings with Tory MP after believing EU control over British waters would end at the Brexit deadline.

He was not the only one who vented his frustrations. Grimsby MP Melanie Onn accused ministers of being “very quick to trade away the British fishing industry” in the early phase of the Brexit talks and Tory Cleethorpes MP, Martin Vickers, wrote to the PM warning that any attempt to keep the country in the CFP would be “completely unacceptable”.


Environment Secretary Michael Gove said his new vision for the fishing industry in the white paper could 'revitalise' coastal communities

The tone has changed remarkably in the four months since – Mr Gove and Mrs May are back to singing from the same hymn sheet upon the release of the fisheries white paper on Wednesday.

Even the fishing unions are joining in with the ministerial harmonies, such is the togetherness over the Government's vision.

In his introduction to the white paper, Secretary of State Mr Gove said leaving the CFP would mean "access to UK waters will be on our terms, under our control and for the benefit of UK fishermen".

READ MORE: Government's Brexit fishing vision revealed - and why it could mean trawlers back in Grimsby

"We are setting out our plans to promote a more competitive, profitable and sustainable fishing industry across the whole of the UK, and setting a gold standard for sustainable fishing around the world," he wrote.

Ms Onn, co-chair of the all-party fisheries group in parliament, was less effusive, saying the "devil will be in the detail".

MPs and industry insiders are currently studying the 60-page document after its release on Wednesday, July 4.

The Labour front bench politician said the post-Brexit changes must ensure the Grimsby workforce benefits from any uplift in landings.

“The UK fishing industry will be watching closely to see if the promises made in the referendum are delivered on,” said Ms Onn.

“Many coastal communities have been pinning their hopes on a revival of their fisheries.

“For ports like Grimsby, I’ll be looking at what support the white paper suggests in practical terms both for investment and skills training that could deliver on some of the hopes of local people.

“I’ll be consulting with the Grimsby fishing industry to put forward a strong response to the white paper that speaks for Grimsby as one.”

Read more: Grimsby's fishing industry could see a post-Brexit revival, claims minister on visit to town

Resort MP Mr Vickers said he welcomed the white paper and said it was a "definitive statement" that the Government would deliver on its promises to the fishing industry after Brexit.

The long-standing Europsceptic said: "The headline and most significant point is a clear and definitive statement that we will be taking back control of UK waters, and this can’t come soon enough.

"We will again be able to manage our waters and ensure that we get a fairer share of fishing opportunities.

“It’s also welcome that the Government has recognised the importance of the seafood processing industry that plays such an important part in our local economy.”


Martin Vickers MP, pictured during a visit to Morrisons' fish production site in Grimsby, has welcomed the fisheries white paper

Mrs May – who heralded the new fisheries plan at Prime Minister's Questions this week – said the publication of the fisheries white paper helped demonstrate the “bright future in store” for the UK fishing industry after Brexit.

“As an island nation our fishing industry is the lifeblood of coastal communities around the UK,” said the Tory leader.

“I have been clear that when we leave the EU we will take back control of our waters, while ensuring we don’t see our fishermen unfairly denied access to other waters.”

Read more: ‘Brexit deal has to protect our seafood industry’

Mr Gove reached for the worst cliché possible, saying leaving the EU would create “a sea of opportunity” for the fishing industry.

“Outside the Common Fisheries Policy we can take back control of our waters and revitalise our coastal communities,” said the Cabinet minister.

“We will be able to put in place our own systems, becoming a world leader in managing our resources while protecting the marine environment.”


Barrie Deas, chief executive of NFFO, on board Kirkella in Grimsby's Royal Dock.

Barrie Deas, chief executive of the National Federation of Fishermen’s Organisation – and a major critic of the CFP-extension decision – was supportive of the Government’s direction for the catching sector.

He said: “Today the Government has presented a broad vision for post-Brexit fisheries that is clear and cogent – and importantly, is aligned with international law.

“I am sure that it will attract wide support across the industry and Parliament.

“Outside the EU, the UK will be an independent coastal state and this will provide the basis to rebalance quota shares and implement effective and adaptive management measures for our fisheries.

“We are pleased a partnership with the fishing industry is at the heart of the Government’s approach. There is much to do and we look forward to working within this framework of cooperation.”



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