Fishermen fear North Sea will become Brexit bargaining tool

For many Scottish fishermen who face the harsh realities of the North Sea every day, Brexit can not come soon - or hard - enough.

But some fear the fishing industry will be overlooked by politicians in the upcoming Brexit negotiations.

Some fisherman believe EU fishing quotas and rules have damaged their industry and are now concerned control of the North Sea will be used as a bargaining tool over the Brexit negotiating table in Brussels.

The fishing industry in northeastern town of Peterhead in Scotland has been decimated over the last four decades, a scenario repeated across many fishing ports across the UK.

Like so many in the fishing port, Jimmy Buchan, the skipper of the Amity trawler, blames the EU's quotas for the decline in the industry - and he now can't wait to leave.

Jimmy Buchan, the skipper of the Amity trawler talks to ITV News correspondent Peter Smith. Credit: ITV News

"This is our one and only chance to make Britain great, which it is known for," he told ITV News Scotland correspondent Peter Smith.

"We had a huge fishing industry. We should be able to fish our seas and feed our people and not be depending on imports," Mr Buchan said.

Scotland voted overwhelmingly to remain in the EU, but many fishermen voted leave and are now chasing a hard Brexit.

A large number of men from the Philippines works on Scottish trawlers. Credit: ITV News

"We would prefer a hard Brexit. I think the industry would kind of need to go that way, because I think otherwise we could be, potentially, sold out by the UK government to allow access to the waters," one fisherman told ITV News.

Almost all fishing crews in Peterhead include men from the Philippines that currently work under strict visa rules which local skippers hope will be relaxed after Britain leaves the EU.

Two-thirds of British fish is currently exported to the EU. Credit: ITV News

But some eastern Europeans working in the town are more fearful of changes to immigration laws. One Polish man told ITV News, it was afraid of what was going to happen as out of 200 employees in the fishing company he works for, only four were locals.

Two-thirds of British fish is currently exported to the EU, so while Brexit is expected to end the Common Fisheries Policy, which sets the quantities and the kinds of fish that are allowed to be caught, the industry is still tied to the continent.