Whitby fisherman says UK and Norway talk have been a "total and utter disaster"

A Whitby fisherman says negotiations between the UK and Norway as an independent coastal state have proved a “total and utter disaster”.

By Alexandra Wood
Thursday, 3rd February 2022, 3:11 pm

Arnold Locker, chairman of Locker Trawlers and former chairman of the National Federation of Fishermen’s Organisations, said quotas for 2022 had been cut by another 10 to 12 per cent “through no fault of their own”.

As a result of negotiations concluded in December, he says the fixed share they have been apportioned - or quota - for species including Norwegian hake, lemon sole and pollack has been cut by 220 tonnes - a significant amount for a small company like his, operating two trawlers.

Last year they were only able to spend six months at sea before they ran out of their allocation, and unless they want a repeat this year, they are going to have to lease quota to allow them to fish hake in Norwegian waters, which Mr Locker labelled a “disgrace”.

Arnold Locker.

The fisherman, whose trawlers Victory Rose and Our Lass III are currently in Scotland for repairs, said: “We are an independent coastal state and we are letting another independent coastal state come into our waters with no quota and expect English and Scottish fishermen to lease fish to fish in their waters.

“We are going to have to lease North Sea hake in Norwegian water, while the Norwegian fishing boats are being allowed to catch North Sea hake in UK waters, even though they have no quota.”

Mr Locker who has been fishing since the UK joined the Common Market in 1973, said the outcome was a typical “Boris Johnson shambles” and despite having voted Conservative all his life, wouldn’t be doing so again.

It comes as a new study found that the benefits to UK fisheries from Brexit “fall far short of Government rhetoric”.

Despite claims that Brexit would result in hundreds of thousands of tonnes of extra catches, researchers believe it will only amount to 107,000 tonnes per year, or 12.4 per cent by value for all species, by 2025.

EU boats still have “significant” access to the six to 12 mile limit off the coast which the Governement said would be exclusively for the UK fleet, and exports had also been harmed by extra red tape.

Lead author, Dr Bryce Stewart, from the University of York, said: “The industry became an icon of Brexit with claims it would correct past injustices and breathe new life into neglected coastal communities, but our study reveals the stark delivery gap between rhetoric and reality.”

The collaboration with New Economics Foundation, Lincoln University and ABPmer found most of the significant increases in catch quotas are for just a few fisheries, such as western mackerel and North Sea sole and herring.

Co-author Suzannah Walmsley said: “There was much talk about ‘zonal attachment’, where quota shares are determined based on the proportion of fish stocks in each party’s waters.

Our analysis of just 24 out of more than 100 stocks included in the deal shows that it falls short of this by at least 229,000 tonnes or £281m.”