Grimsby's fishermen WILL be better off after Brexit - minister

By Grimsby Telegraph | Posted: 3 Dec 2016

South Bank fishermen will get a better deal outside the European Union, ministers have assured.

In a debate secured by Grimsby MP Melanie Onn on Thursday, she questioned why both the Fisheries Minister George Eustice and Brexit Secretary David Davis – both of whom campaigned to leave the trading bloc – had yet to lay out how the town's fishing and fish processing industries would be better off after Brexit.

Read more: MPs join forces to demand answers over the future of a post-Brexit fishing industry

She accused Mr Eustice, a Cornish MP, of misleading fishermen when he visited North Lincolnshire during the referendum campaign.

Read related news: Brexit - Armada of new fishing vessels unlikely says Grimsby seafood chief

Ms Onn said: "The Fisheries Minister visited Cleethorpes and spoke to my local paper during the referendum because he knows what an emotive issue this is for people in our area.

"He sought to give them hope that Grimsby's fishing fleets of the past would return.

"So I was genuinely angered to read his comments a month ago that it would be fishermen in the Channel and the West Country who will benefit from post-Brexit reforms to fishing quotas.

"How convenient that he omitted to mention that he didn't see Brexit benefiting fishermen in the Humber before the referendum."

But ministers have vouched that they still believed trawlermen would be unshackled if the UK operated outside of the EU's Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) – the scheme whereby the amount of fish that can be caught is dictated by Brussels.

Junior Brexit Minister David Jones told Cleethorpes MP Martin Vickers, in a question and answer session in Parliament just a few hours before the fishing debate, that "the fishing industry is at the forefront of our considerations" and that the Government had already held "several meetings" with industry representatives.

Later on Mr Eustice said that, while he agreed with Ms Onn that the Cod Wars had the "largest impact" on the decline of Grimsby's fishing fleet rather than the CFP, it was in fact the result of those three conflicts that laid the foundation for Britain to take control of its waters now.

Read more: Can Brexit really have a big impact on the fishing industry?

"Ironically, after those Cod Wars it became a norm of international law that countries would have an exclusive fishing area going out 200 nautical miles," he said.

"We would abide by that international law in the UK and expect the EU to do the same."

Mr Eustice, a former Ukip member, is due to go to Brussels next week to negotiate next year's fishing quotas where he said he is hoping to get a "fair and balanced deal".

Tory MP Mr Vickers spoke on Thursday afternoon to say he hoped a post-Brexit deal would allow the country to manage fish stocks independently and in a "flexible and responsible way", while also allowing for tariff-free trade of fishing products between the UK and the EU.

He quoted Steve Norton on Brexit, the recently retired chief executive of Grimsby Fish Merchants' Association, who had told him: "Though there are uncertainties, we have the unique opportunity to right the wrongs of the past and give the industry hope for a new prosperity."

Read more: Fitting memorial to the sons of the sea

During the three-hour debate, MPs paid tribute to the fishermen who had lost their lives while carrying out their trade. Nine died in the past 12 months alone.

Mr Vickers said: "I'm old enough to remember the hush that fell over the streets of Grimsby and Cleethorpes when a trawler was lost. It was a silent, cold and eerie feeling."

Read next: Could Ukip finally be getting its act together in Grimsby?

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