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 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


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