Last night I held a debate in Parliament calling on the Government to officially recognise Hull’s Lost Trawlermen’s Day as a national day of remembrance for fishermen who have lost their lives at sea.
On the last Sunday of January Hull commemorates the more than 6,000 trawlermen who left the city and didn’t return. Fishing communities up and down the country share that experience – fishermen have often paid the ultimate price to put the national dish on the table. This has been under-recognised for too long at a national level.
It is very much a team effort to mark the contribution of the fishing industry and to commemorate those who lost their lives, and I was pleased last night to see that this idea had cross-party support in the Chamber.
I want to pay tribute in particular to the founders and organisers of Lost Trawlermen’s Day, the St Andrews Dock Heritage Park Action Group (STAND), as well as my constituent Ian Bowes and his fellow tour guides on the Arctic Corsair, who are keeping the history alive for younger generations.
The cultural institutions marking the contribution of trawlermen and the wider industry to the city of Hull have gone from strength to strength in recent years. Both the Arctic Corsair and the Spurn lightship have recently undergone dry-dock repairs to preserve them for generations to come, which I am delighted to see. It has chiefly been led by Hull City Council and its leader Councillor Daren Hale, and they have ensured that the “Hull: Yorkshire’s Maritime City” project undertakes the vital work needed to preserve and promote Hull’s 800 years of seafaring history.
Hull’s history as a city built around the fishing industry and off the backs of hard-working fishermen is mirrored in many towns and cities across the country. Fishing is an essential part of our identity as an island nation, as is our much loved fish and chips.
An official day to remember those who paid the ultimate price to put the national dish on the table is long overdue, so I’m delighted the Government have committed to taking this forward.
I was pleased to hear last night the Maritime Minister Robert Courts MP, committed to explore the proposal further and engage with me and other supportive MPs. As I said last night, it is not for me or the Government to decide what this day should look like – that is for the families and loved ones of those lost, and I will look to give them a voice in all discussions.
I have been humbled and moved by the messages of support, both from cross-party MPs representing fishing communities and people in our city who are fully behind this campaign.
This is a massive part of our shared story that has been under-recognised for far too long, but by following Hull’s lead we can begin to change that.