Bridlington lobsters will be dead in their tanks at the border if trade deal with EU not reached, MP warns
Scarborough and Whitby MP Robert Goodwill has warned that fisheries on the North Yorkshire coast are dependent on negotiators securing a trade deal with the EU.
Conservative Mr Goodwill expressed his concerns over exports from his constituency being subject to delays at the border or to tariffs should the UK fail to secure a deal by the end of the year.
And speaking to the Yorkshire Post’s Pod’s Own Country podcast, he said the Government’s new Fisheries Bill, which is currently making its way through Parliament and aims to implement controls on foreign vessels seeking to access UK fishing waters, would benefit North Yorkshire as it would help to maintain fishing stock.
But he said negotiations with the EU, as a separate point, also had to progress well for the region to truly prosper.
He said: “The cod that you will be served in a fish and chip shop in Yorkshire, possibly or probably will have been caught in Icelandic waters by an Icelandic vessel, shipped down to Grimsby and maybe processed then or put into the market.
“And the sort of species that we catch a lot of in the North Sea, a lot of those fish are actually exported to France and Spain. And, of course, in my own constituency, Whitby and Scarborough and Bridlington in particular, a big shellfish port, we have an amazingly productive crab and lobster fishery off the coast.”
He said: “The majority of those are exported to lucrative markets in France or Spain, and they're exported live in tanks, so you can't have bureaucracy, you can't have delays, those lorries need to go straight through the channel on a boat or through the tunnel, and get to markets quickly.”
He warned: “Even an eight hour delay can mean dead lobsters in the tanks, which are not marketable.”
Speaking as the Fisheries Bill was debated in the Commons earlier in the week Mr Goodwill, a former fisheries minister, said no fisherman had ever welcomed the common fisheries policy, which gives all European fishing fleets equal access to EU waters to create fair competition.
And speaking to The Yorkshire Post he said: “We can over time get back control of more of the fish because more than half the fish in the North Sea are caught by foreign vessels.”
EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier said earlier in the week that he was “worried and disappointed” over a lack of concessions and said there would be no agreement if the UK did not budge over fisheries.
But the Prime Minister’s official spokesman responded: “The EU have refused to engage with our proposals and the documents we’ve brought to the table, insisting we must accept continuity with EU fisheries policy and disregarding the UK’s status as an independent coastal state.
“We need more realism from the EU on the scale of the change that results from our leaving the EU.”
Informal talks this week between Mr Barnier and his UK counterpart David Frost failed to find a breakthrough ahead of the eighth round of formal negotiations which begin in London next week.
Both sides want a deal agreed next month in order to have it in place for the end of the transition period on December 31.