The Road to the Referendum

We travel to Whitby in the first of our Referendum pieces, which looks at how fishing will be affected Credit: ITV Tyne Tees

In "The Road to the Referendum" we travel the length and breadth of the region looking at how the North East will be affected by the EU Referendum on 23rd June.

In the first of our pieces, we visit a coastal town where "Kiss Me Quick" may not extend to our European cousins.

Whitby is rich in history and famous throughout Europe but the mere mention of the European Union can bring back painful memories for some, who say it took the very heart and soul out of this town.

Whitby's fish market Credit: ITV Tyne Tees

Whitby was once one of Europe's fishing catch capitals. In 1948, scores of boats brought back fish to market. Today, the contrast couldn't be starker. Morning sees barely a boat in the harbour and the fishing market is now only held once a month.

Quota controls imposed by the European Union to protect fishing stocks saw most boats abandon Whitby harbour for good.


Tonnes of fish used to be landed in Whitby every week.


Tonne a month are now landed in Whitby.

Tourists still flock to Whitby, but many enjoying the signature dish of fish and chips have no idea where their cod comes from:

But the fishing restrictions were put in place for a reason, in the late sixties there were over a quarter of a million cod in the North Sea and English Channel, which plummeted to under 50,000 by 2006. Since then, a 'Cod Recovery Plan' has been put in place and numbers have gone up - but the figures are still below the amount needed for sustainable fishing.


Cod in the North Sea and English Channel between 1965 - 1973


Cod in the North Sea and English Channel by 2006


Cod in the North Sea and English Channel by 2013

We sail out from Whitby with one of the boats still used for fishing, Skipper James Coal sold his large trawler and now fishes on a far smaller scale.

He believes the UK should leave the European Union:

But Arnold Locker, another Whitby fisherman, bought up quotas from other skippers getting out of the fishing industry.

He believes the UK should remain in the European Union: