Blog: Fishermen lament Brexit betrayal and ageing crews –

The lack of interest is also being felt at the Whitby Fishing School, a government-funded college to attract young people into the industry. It offers a 12-month diploma for 16 to 24-year-olds to work in commercial fishing.

After it was established in 2006 the school regularly filled its annual intake of about 40 students a year. In recent years, according to Andrew Hodgson, the chief executive, that number has halved.

Mr Hodgson says apprentices can expect to earn anything between £15,000 to £30,000 a year for their first job depending on the size of the vessel. But the problem is the lack of jobs in the first place, with many of the larger trawlers unable to get the necessary fishing quotas to turn a decent profit.

His concerns are echoed by Andrew Locker, chairman of the National Federation of Fishermen’s Organisations, the trade association for fishermen and vessel operators in England and Wales, and director of his own Whitby-based trawler firm.

Typically he employs a crew of 22 with four skippers across two trawlers but since March they have been tied up in port as he has been unable to get the required quotas to fish. He says Brexit has also removed the ability to trade quotas with EU vessels.

“There is a viable industry out there,” he says. “99.9 per cent [of] fishermen voted for Brexit because they thought they were going to govern their own waters. But because of the disastrous deal we have got, there is no way we are ever going to rebuild our coastal communities and put a viable call out for recruitment of young people.”

He hopes when the transition period expires in 2026 that the Government will be able to negotiate a far better arrangement with the EU.

His wish-list remains the same as when he and so many voted for Brexit in the first place: control of British territorial waters, and the ability to govern who fishes there.

Until that is delivered, he warns, the industry will continue to fail to attract new blood.

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