The Kirkella, which catches between 8-12% of the cod and haddock destined for Britain’s chippies, has been left without access to fishing grounds off Norway and Greenland, with fishermen uncertain if or when they will be able to return to sea.
In a letter to the Prime Minister and Environment Secretary George Eustice, I urged the Government to make rapid progress with negotiations.
Despite his election promises, the Prime Minister has left Hull fishermen high and dry, and his dither and delay is a threat to the industry.
We are, rightly, incredibly proud of our fishing heritage in Hull, but it deserves to be part of our future too, with local fisherman bringing home the catch for the national dish. The Government need to take action – they should not be jeopardising jobs in this region, especially at a time like this. ”
Read the full text of letter below:
Dear Prime Minister,
I am writing on behalf of voters in my community of East Hull and the wider city who are increasingly alarmed at the potential loss of the UK’s distant waters fishing fleet. This, as you know, is mainly crewed, maintained and supplied from Hull where it has its headquarters and from where it operates the Kirkella, the only trawler that remains in Hull from a once great fleet
Until 31st December 2020, the Kirkella, which is owned by UK Fisheries (UKF), fished in the sub-arctic seas off Norway, Svalbard and Greenland primarily for cod and haddock destined for the UK’s fish & chip shops.
As of today’s date, the Kirkella and its crew have no licences or quotas to fish anywhere – and have no guidance as to when, if, or to what extent that might change. With no fishing grounds open to her, the Kirkella is currently sitting idle at King George Dock.
The industry and local leaders have been alerting government to this for over two years, yet here we are with no ability to fish. It seems as if this Government is hell-bent on putting the last nail in the coffin of distant waters fishing, just at the time we are meant to be taking back control and giving a desperately needed boost to the fishing sector.
The management of UKF has brought more than £120m of inward investment into Hull and the industry, pays its taxes in the UK and supports thousands of jobs locally. These much-needed economic benefits to the region risk being squandered due to the lack of an agreement, with both jobs on the Kirkella and in the supply chain under threat.
In the light of the above, can you please answer these urgent questions to allay the fears of my constituents:
- What is the UK’s plan to secure continued access to the quotas the UK has caught historically in the Norwegian Economic Zone in and around the Barents Sea? What are the steps to securing those quotas and what is the timeframe? Please note that I am aware there is a Fisheries Framework Agreement in place, but this does not guarantee anything for distant waters fishing.
- What is the UK’s plan to secure continued access to the quotas the UK has caught historically in the Svalbard Economic Zone (SEZ)? What are the steps to securing these quotas and what is the timeframe? Please note that I am aware that Norway and the EU have proposed conflicting quotas for the UK in the SEZ, and that will need the UK to make its own plan.
- What is the UK’s plan to secure continued access to the quotas the UK has caught in the Greenland Economic Zone? What are the steps to securing these quotas and what is the timeframe? I am aware that there is a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Greenland; and that this does not cover continuity of fishing access for the UK fleet.
- What plans does the UK have to reopen fisheries access negotiations with Iceland in its Exclusive Economic Zone? What are the steps to securing this access and what is the timeframe? I am aware that there is an MOU with Iceland; but that this does not offer access for the UK fleet.
My constituents desperately require answers to these questions and are expecting your Government to return to the negotiating table and make constructive progress as soon as possible. Fishing communities like Hull cannot tolerate any more dither and delay when their industry is on hold and jobs are at risk. I look forward to hearing from you as a matter of urgency.
Karl Turner MP
CC: Rt Hon George Eustice MP, Secretary of State for Department of Environment, Food, & Rural Affairs