BRITAIN’S fishermen today plead with Boris Johnson to keep them afloat in crunch Brexit talks, saying: “Please don’t sell us up the Channel.”
The row over fishing rights following Britain’s EU departure still threatens to collapse trade and security discussions after another week of wrangling ended in deadlock.
Although a deal is close there is still no agreement on fishing rights amid increasing French pressure and new EU demands to keep our quotas under review.
And now those at our fishing front line — who haul in 500,000 tons of catch a year — have urged the Prime Minister to stay firm on promises to defend their trade.
Derek Meredith, 54, who runs a scallop trawler in Brixham, Devon, said: “My message to Boris is, ‘Don’t give in to Brussels and sell us up the Channel’.
“I’ve started working with my 20-year-old son Joe and I am praying this industry can be a fresh start for him. At the moment, my other two sons are running a fish shop we have opened in order to sell our own catch.
“If we don’t fight for our waters and a decent quota of fishing time then the whole industry is going to die on its feet.”
Derek, who has fished for 40 years, said the battle over our waters has got so fiery that clashes with French fishing fleets have become regular occurrences.
He added: “Last month we got in a skirmish with the French and I had stones thrown at my boat and even a flare fired at us. It is bloody dangerous.
“I reported it to the authorities hoping they would stand up for us, but yet again they have done nothing. They just tried to hush it up because things are so delicate at the negotiations at the moment.
“I hope I’m wrong, but I have a horrible feeling there has already been a deal stitched up that would be a disaster.”
The UK will have formally left the Common Fisheries Policy at the end of December and gain full control over the EEZ — the exclusive economic zone.
This area extends out 200 nautical miles into the North Atlantic.
Each country currently has access to our waters apart from the first 12 nautical miles.
The UK wants to set annual quotas but Brussels fears this would be a disaster for long-term planning for EU trawlers — especially those from France.
EU fishing communities want to keep the current arrangements but top Eurocrats realise they will have to buckle to get a deal.
The battle is over an industry worth just 0.1 per cent of UK GDP — around £1.4billion — which employs just 0.1 per cent of our workforce.
But it is one of the most emotive battlegrounds for Brexit voters — who point out France’s £1.6billion-a-year fishing industry supports 65,000 jobs there and is hugely reliant on Britain