News: Last voyage for UK distant-waters fishing?06 December 2020
UK must secure deal NOW with Norway to save our fleet
UK Fisheries freezer trawler Kirkella arriving at Hull on Sunday, December 6, 2020
Kirkella, the pride of the UK’s distant-waters fishing fleet, moored at Hull this morning for what may be the last time. Regardless of what happens in the EU trade talks, only immediate government action can save the last remnants of a wonderful British industry that has helped feed our nation for centuries.
Jane Sandell, CEO of UK Fisheries, the British company that operates the UK’s distant-waters fleet, said that despite all the focus on the EU talks they are only the start of a process that will decide whether there will be any distant-waters fishing from the UK on January 1, or perhaps ever again.
“It’s now or never for our UK distant-waters fleet and the hundreds of families whose livelihoods depend in it,” Sandell said. “This is not rhetoric: if the government does not strike a deal with Norway and other countries in the next couple of weeks, it’s the end of distant-waters fishing from Hull. It’s as simple as that.”
Despite the recently-signed fisheries framework agreement with Norway, there is currently no legal basis for UK Fisheries’ distant-water vessels to fish cod in the Norwegian Economic Zone (NEZ) from the end of this year as it has done for decades. It is therefore absolutely incumbent upon the UK Government to secure this basis.
But the door is wide open to such a deal – in fact, sources close to the Norwegian government and the fishing industry in Norway have suggested to us that this is precisely what Norway is expecting, if we ask for it.
Any deal we negotiate with the EU on fisheries should lead to the EU relinquishing those fishing rights in third-country waters which are currently allocated to the UK. Then, Norway will be able to directly re-offer us the quotas for the Arctic cod that we currently catch in the NEZ – as they would then be bound to do under international law.
Meanwhile, there will remain significant Norwegian fishing activity in the UK North Sea EEZ. We can use Norwegian vessels’ continued access to ‘pay’ for the quantities we fish, for instance, of Arctic cod in the NEZ. This would be a fair, balanced and logical exchange. In fact, a balance could be struck in the UK’s favour while retaining the valuable Arctic cod resource that the UK distant waters fleet depends on.
Whether or not we reach a deal with the EU, the UK Government has an “open goal” in front of it for a mutually beneficial arrangement with Norway (and similarly with Greenland, Iceland and the Faroes). Our negotiators can land this deal – they just need the politicians to let them.
The £52m fishing vessel Kirkella is the pride of the UK’s distant-waters fishing fleet, boasting the highest standards of sustainable, environmentally responsible fishing and highest quality accommodation and living and working standards for crew.
UK Fisheries is the UK’s single largest presence in the distant fishing grounds off Norway, where it catches cod and haddock under quotas granted by Norway, in particular, but also by Greenland and the Faroe Islands.
UK Fisheries is based in Hull where it lands its catches for the UK market and employs more than 100 staff. The company, which is registered in the UK and pays all its taxes here, is working to ensure that Kirkella will have continued access to distant waters in a post-Brexit world.
Visuals available here.
Contact: Trevor Datson firstname.lastname@example.org M. 07940 571323
Crew members disembark from the freezer trawler Kirkella at Hull on Sunday, December 6, 2020, after what may be the final fishing trip for the UK’s distant-waters fishing industry