Fleetwood MP Cat Smith says new Fishing Bill must protect UK fishing rights in home waters

In its hey day, the Fleetwood fishing industry employed 9,000 people
In its hey day, the Fleetwood fishing industry employed 9,000 people

Cat Smith, the MP for Fleetwood, has urged the Government to ensure that British fishing rights are protected in post-Brexit trade talks with the EU.

The MP says her constituents would be regard it as a “betrayal” if British fishing grounds were sacrificed during what are expected to be tough discussions with Brussels.
The comments by the Labour MP for Lancaster and Fleetwood were echoed by other MPs with fishing constituencies, including Tory representatives.
During the debate at Westminster Hall, Ms Smith said that although the fishing industry had been dramatically reduced in Fleetwood, there were still close emotional connections to fishing in the town and a strong fish processing industry which was still a major employer.
She said communities like Fleetwood which had voted for Brexit had done so under the banner of taking back control of British waters and they did not want that control to be recovered, only for those waters to be then ceded in an EU trade negotiation.
She said: “If that fear is realised I cannot over-exaggerate the sense of betrayal that will be felt, not only in Fleetwood but across the country.
“I have two main asks of the Fishing Bill.
“Firstly, it has to be a requirement that fish caught under UK quotas are landed in the UK, because for every one job there is at sea, it supports ten jobs on shore and that is a major part of regeneration in coastal communities.
“And that fish caught on UK quotas be redistributed away from the large multinationals, because two thirds of employment in fishing is generated by the under 10 metre boats.”
At its peak, the Fleetwood fishing industry employed 9,000 people in the town but it was decimated after the final Cod War in the 1970s, which led to British deep sea trawlers being barred from traditional fishing grounds off Iceland.
The last deep sea trawler left Fleetwood in 1982 and the town has struggled to recover.
Responding, Fisheries Minister George Eustice said: “We’re very clear that we want to be ... like Norway.
“We want to be an independent coastal state in control of the resources in our waters, having friendly annual negotiations with our neighbours, having a mutual exchange of access and an annual discussion on the total allowable catch and who should have what share of that catch species by species.”

Fleetwood MP Cat Smith spoke out about the new Fishing Bill

Fleetwood MP Cat Smith spoke out about the new Fishing Bill