Give us our fishing grounds back!
That’s the message from former Fleetwood fisherman and residents who have joined other fishing communities in a nationwide petition.
Today, by lunchtime, some 32,363 signatures had been added to the online petition, entitled “Ensure the British fishing waters are returned to the UK post Brexit”.
The campaign was launched nationally by ex-fisherman Thomas Lewis last week, with a view to gaining 100,000 names and having the issue debated in parliament.
Ex- Fleetwood skipper/owner Brian Cato, 65 of Beach Road, is among those backing the petition.
He said: “We know there’s no chance of Fleetwood’s fishing industry going back to where it was in the 70s. But if Britain does leave the EU, why should Brussels retain control over our fishing grounds? The fishing industry is still a multi- billion industry which has the potential to create thousands of jobs.
“It is worth fighting for and if the Fleetwood industry could get back to being a fraction of what it was, we would be talking about a massive boost for this town.”
Also backing the campaign is Will Bamber, who is still working in the fishing industry.
Will, 33, of Westgate, owns two fishing boats and said: “Getting our fishing grounds back is just one part of the work we need to do to help the industry.
“We also need to look at the quota arrangements withing the Common Fisheries Policy.
“As soon as I saw this petition I signed it straightaway and I know a lot of people in Fleetwood have done the same.”
In last year’s EU referendum, there was a 75 per cent support for the Brexit campaign to leave the EU among Fleetwood voters, fuelled by anger at what happened to the fishing industry.
Many in the fishing industry say the EU’s Common Fisheries Policy, which allowed EU boats into Britain’s rich fishing grounds and allocated stringent quotas, sold the home industry down the river.
There are fears that the EU wants to retain control over the fish stocks in British waters.
The wording of the petition states; “We call on Parliament to ensure these waters and fish stocks return to Britain.
“Much of the EU referendum was based on the idea of reclaiming the fish stocks in British waters.
“It became a key aspect of sovereignty. It would be an absolute failure for the government and parliament to allow the Common Fisheries Policy to continue when the chance to rebuild the coastal fishing communities of Britain are so close.”
The petition is at: https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/185827