View: Distant fisheries scorecard

15 January 2021

Lack of fisheries deals with Norway, Greenland, Faroes will scupper the fleet 

The EU deal is done, but for distant-waters fishing it changes nothing. Without bilateral deals with Norway and others, there is no long-term viable distant-waters fishing industry in the UK from January 1. We are tired of asking: we demand that the government acts now to save our industry. 

Latest scorecard 15 January, view as a PDF

Will the government do the deals needed to keep our crews at work in 2021? Does it intend to? As of now we don’t know when, or even if, we will be able to put to fish off Norway, our main fishing ground for decades. 

We’ve been telling the same story for more than two years, well before Kirkella was christened at Greenwich in 2019. But there is little sign the UK government has listened. Without individual bilateral deals on quotas with Greenland, the Faroes and especially Norway, there is no long-term viable distant-waters fishing industry in the UK from January 1. We may be able to scrape by for a few weeks fishing off Svalbard, but that alone can’t keep the industry afloat. And as far as we can tell we’re the only business in the UK fishing industry whose very existence has been put in jeopardy by such avoidable government inaction.

The longer this situation persists, the harder it will be to put it right. If it continues, and we desperately hope that it doesn’t, our crews will have to find work in other industries – if they can. Our European owners, who have invested £120m over the past decade in rescuing distant waters fishing, will no longer want to sit by and watch their assets depreciate. The additional £60–100m they planned to invest in our industry will find a grateful home elsewhere.

So much for all the grand post-Brexit promises of ‘prodigious amounts of fish’ and ‘seas of opportunity’. 

What is most frustrating is that all the government needs to do is agree with Norway (and Greenland and the Faroes) that we can continue fishing on existing terms – or, now that the EU is out of the way, to make better bilateral deals. Imagine a £50m factory on shore that wasn’t able to work just because the government had failed to hold a negotiation that, compared with the EU deal, will be the simplest imaginable; one that we have been asking it to have for years.

We know our partners are ready to talk. What is more, the UK has never before been in such a strong position because of the importance of its markets to our trading and fisheries partners. It’s time to regain some of the distant fishing opportunities we lost in the 1980s, and the UK government just has to get on with it so we can do our jobs. 

The alternative – and one that gets closer for every day that goes by – is a dismal end to English distant waters fishing, an industry that has helped nourish our nation for centuries.

Yes, that would be outcome of all those plans to ‘take back control’. What truly sovereign government would sit back and allow this to happen to its own fishers?


Kirkella tour
Kirkella in Hull
Kirkella on the Humber
Kirkella Port 2
Kirkella Bow 2
Kirkella Birdseye 2
Kirkella Naming Ceremony and VIP Reception
Kirkella lunch party at Cutty Sark Museum
Kirkella Great British Fish & Chips event at Greenwich
Kirkella speech by HRH The Princess Royal
Kirkella passing through Tower Bridge
Kirkella BBC News
HRH The Princess Royal names Kirkella
Kirkella cutaway animation
Sir Barney White-Spunner, UK Fisheries Ltd, Interview
Kirkella General Tour
Kirkella Factory Tour


Kirkella trawling
Kirkella on Humber
Kirkella drone footage
Kirkella drone footage
Kirkella drone footage
The Kirkella Naming celebration lunch at the Cutty Sark Museum
The Fish Fryers free fish & chip event at Cutty Sark Gardens for 2,500 locals
The City of Hull Brass Band at Cutty Sark Gardens
Sir Barney White-Spunner, Chairman of the Advisory Board, UK Fisheries, at the Kirkella Naming celebration dinner at the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich
Kirkella sailing upstream through Tower Bridge
Kirkella sailing downstream through Tower Bridge
HRH The Princess Royal with Graham Barney, Factory Manager, Kirkella
HRH The Princess Royal with Charlie Waddy, First Mate, on the bridge of Kirkella
HRH The Princess Royal unveiling a model of Kirkella presented by UK Fisheries to the National Maritime Museum
HRH The Princess Royal Naming Kirkella at Greenwich
HRH The Princess Royal meeting Stig Maersk, Musical Director, and players in the City of Hull Brass Band
HRH The Princess Royal making her address at the Kirkella Naming Ceremony in Greenwich
2,500 local people in Greenwich enjoying free Kirkella-caught cod & chips
Sir Barney White-Spunner, Chairman of the Advisory Board, UK Fisheries Ltd
UK Fisheries infographic
Kirkella poster
Cutaway illustration of Kirkella
UK Fisheries Ltd logo