Whitby's fishermen 'let down' by government over Brexit deal

Fishermen in Whitby have told ITV News Tyne Tees that they feel 'let down' and are 'dismayed' with the government over its last minute Brexit fishing deal.With the industry standing still due to red tape, members of the fishing community in the North Yorkshire coastal town are angry.Richard Brewer has fished the North Sea for decades. He voted Brexit in the hope it would give his crew opportunities to catch more fish, but his boat is now moored up and out of action in North Shields. "We've diverted away from the white fish, which we can’t sell, to prawns. We did catch prawns on our first couple of days and then the buyer told us that there was no point going to sea, because he could not move the prawns that we’d landed on the market to where they go to in France, Spain and Italy."

Bureaucracy has got in the way and we can’t shift anything at the moment. I don’t regret voting for Brexit. I thought that was the way forward, but the way it’s been handled, I am very dismayed with our government.

Richard Brewer, Fisherman
North Shields Fish Quay Credit: ITV Tyne Tees

Richard's son, Stuart, is 37 and has been fishing with his dad and brother since he was 16. Relatively early in his career, he is worried about what his future holds.He said "we’ve been let down. We were told there was an oven ready deal, a seamless transition and now we’re 30 or 40 per cent down on everything. None of it is good".Their grievances are heightened by reports that the Fisheries Minister, Victoria Prentis, failed to read the Brexit Deal on Christmas Eve, because she was 'busy' dealing with a nativity play.Arnold Locker owns Lockers Fish, a processing plant in another part of the town. He said he is "disgusted" to learn about the Fisheries Minister and also by comments made by the Leader of the House of Commons, Jacob Rees-Mogg on Thursday, when he told parliament "what is happening is that the Government is tackling this issue, dealing with it as quickly as possible, and the key thing is we’ve got our fish back. They’re now British fish and they are better and happier fish for it."

Whitby Credit: PA

With British fishermen no longer allowed to swap quotas of fish they do not want with individual EU member states and with fewer fish being exported, Arnold Locker is already losing income, having to reduce stock and freeze fish.

It’s pathetic, it’s absolutely pathetic. I think it’s absolutely disgusting. We want our fish. We haven’t got our fish.

Arnold Locker, Lockers Fish Whitby

Arnold added: "This deal does not give us our fish back. I mean there’s fish wagons that haven’t been able to make it even across the Channel. A lot of fish merchants have lost a lot of money. There’s been a lot of fish that’s had to be frozen, but the whole deal has just been chaos, absolute chaos."