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  1. ITV Report

Exit from fishing deal could reel in opportunities for the East

The government has taken the first step on the way to what it calls "taking back control of our waters" - something the region's Brexit-supporting fishermen have been calling for for years.

Click below to watch a video report by Victoria Lampard

A fisherman from Essex says the government's decision to withdraw from a deal that allows other countries to fish in its waters could offer a massive boost to the industry in this region.

Paul Gilson, from Leigh on Sea, has been fishing for nearly 50 years. He welcomes news the UK will pull out of the London Fisheries Convention.

Mr Gilson wants the UK to take back control of its waters because he believes the EU has made a mess of the fishing industry.

Leigh-on-Sea fishermen hope the government's decision will offer a boost to the industry. Credit: ITV News Anglia.

"We need that control, we need some sensible management, under the EU laws as it stands at the moment so much fish is wasted and killed unnecessarily.

"We need some freedom to manage what is in our waters. We do share these stocks with other nations but some of those stocks we can do a better job of looking after."

– Paul Gilson, fisherman.

At the moment, the convention allows vessels from France, Belgium, Germany, Ireland and the Netherlands to fish within six to12 nautical miles of the UK's coastline. That is in addition to the EU Common Fisheries Policy that gives European boats access to waters from 12 to 200 nautical miles.

Mr Gilson said the current rules had decimated the industry in the East of England.

Paul Gilson has been fishing for nearly 50 years. Credit: ITV News Anglia.

"If you go to places like Lowestoft, there were over a hundred boats when I was at college - there's now not one, not one. That's how devastating it's been.

"We haven't got the boats to take the fishing opportunities that will be available to us so, if things go well, I can see an increase in boats, new infrastructure. There are so many opportunities here that people don't seem to grasp."

– Paul Gilson, fisherman.

The government will notify the other member states signed up to the agreement on Monday. The change in regulation is expected to come into play in two years' time.

Environment Secretary Michael Gove said this move allowed the UK to put itself in a better position ahead of Brexit, when the country would no longer be bound by the Common Fisheries Policy either.

"This is an historic first step towards building a new domestic fishing policy as we leave the European Union - one which leads to a more competitive, profitable and sustainable industry for the whole of the UK."

– Michael Gove, Environment Secretary.