British fishermen urge Boris Johnson not to ‘sell us up the Channel’ in crunch Brexit talks


BRITAIN’S fishermen today plead with Boris Johnson to keep them afloat in crunch Brexit talks, saying: “Please don’t sell us up the Channel.”

The row over fishing rights following Britain’s EU departure still threatens to collapse trade and security discussions after another week of wrangling ended in deadlock.

Britain’s fishermen are pleading with Boris Johnson to keep them afloat in crunch Brexit talks

Although a deal is close there is still no agreement on fishing rights amid increasing French pressure and new EU demands to keep our quotas under review.

And now those at our fishing front line — who haul in 500,000 tons of catch a year — have urged the Prime Minister to stay firm on promises to defend their trade.

Derek Meredith, 54, who runs a scallop trawler in Brixham, Devon, said: “My message to Boris is, ‘Don’t give in to Brussels and sell us up the Channel’.

“I’ve started working with my 20-year-old son Joe and I am praying this industry can be a fresh start for him. At the moment, my other two sons are running a fish shop we have opened in order to sell our own catch.

“If we don’t fight for our waters and a decent quota of fishing time then the whole industry is going to die on its feet.”

Derek, who has fished for 40 years, said the battle over our waters has got so fiery that clashes with French fishing fleets have become regular occurrences.

He added: “Last month we got in a skirmish with the French and I had stones thrown at my boat and even a flare fired at us. It is bloody dangerous.

“I reported it to the authorities hoping they would stand up for us, but yet again they have done nothing. They just tried to hush it up because things are so delicate at the negotiations at the moment.

Derek Meredith runs a scallop trawler and said: ‘My message to Boris is, Don’t give in to Brussels and sell us up the Channel’

“I hope I’m wrong, but I have a horrible feeling there has already been a deal stitched up that would be a disaster.”

The UK will have formally left the Common Fisheries Policy at the end of December and gain full control over the EEZ — the exclusive economic zone.

This area extends out 200 nautical miles into the North Atlantic.

Each country currently has access to our waters apart from the first 12 nautical miles.

The UK wants to set annual quotas but Brussels fears this would be a disaster for long-term planning for EU trawlers — especially those from France.

EU fishing communities want to keep the current arrangements but top Eurocrats realise they will have to buckle to get a deal.

The battle is over an industry worth just 0.1 per cent of UK GDP — around £1.4billion — which employs just 0.1 per cent of our workforce.

But it is one of the most emotive battlegrounds for Brexit voters — who point out France’s £1.6billion-a-year fishing industry supports 65,000 jobs there and is hugely reliant on Britain

Tom Parker says he wants ‘us to get our own waters back from six to 12 miles out’

This week, HOAR on Sunday visited the seaside village of Brixham — the UK’s most valuable fishing port — which brought in £36million in fishing alone last year.

But the 14th century fishing community in the Devon village, which has been at the heart of the nation’s trawling trade — is facing its biggest threat in 700 years

Tom Parker, 33, is typical of the few young men determined to make their way in the industry.

He spent £110,000 buying and restoring a boat from which, on a very good day, he can earn £900.

Tom said: “I work on my own with no crew so any profit is mine to take.

“But on a bad day I can land as little as £100 worth and that doesn’t even cover the cost of my fuel. There are two things I want from this deal. One is for us to get our own waters back from six to 12 miles out.

“And secondly, we might get a bigger share of the quota so there is more to go round.

“I honestly believe Boris Johnson will do his best for us though.

Mike Sharp said if Boris sells ‘us down the river he will find himself in a whole world of pain with the fishing industry’

“I think there will be continued access for EU boats here but it will just be scaled back.”

Andy Cutler, 51, has his own boat which he operates with his three sons, Jamie, 24, Sandy, 21, and Glenn, 18.

He said: “We currently export something like 80 per cent of what we catch so I sincerely hope we won’t lose that market if this deal goes wrong. If we do, we won’t be able to survive.

“I think the issue is the French. They are getting very worked up and threatening all sorts of things.

“I’m hopeful Great Britain will soon have a Great British fishing fleet again.”

Mike Sharp runs two trawlers. His wife Clare does his books.

He said: “I am happy Boris will deliver on his promise. It won’t be worth him selling us down the river because if he does, he will find himself in a whole world of pain with the fishing industry.”

But not everyone is against the idea of giving way to Brussels.

Boat owner Alex Passmore is the fifth generation of his family to have gone to sea.

Boat owner Alex Passmore says: ‘I want a tariff-free agreement’

Boats moored in Brixham harbour — the UK’s most valuable fishing port which brought in £36million in fishing alone last year

He currently runs three scallopers but also processes and sells his own catch both here and abroad, including the Middle and Far East.

He is worried.

He said: “Yes, I want to get our waters back but I also want to maintain what are good markets in France but also Spain, Italy and Portugal — so I want a tariff-free agreement.”

GOT a story? RING HOAR on 0207 782 4104 or WHATSAPP on 07423720250 or EMAIL [email protected]