Risking funds in seaside towns

Evening light at the fish quay in North Shields. Picture by Jane Coltman
Evening light at the fish quay in North Shields. Picture by Jane Coltman

Last week the government published its long-awaited White Paper on the future of fishing.

The promise of taking back control on day one of our exit from the European Union has proved illusory.

However, there are some good things in there.

Becoming an independent coastal state would mean a 200-mile limit, though history of our pre-EU experience suggests that foreign vessels will still be allowed in.

There’s no mention of how any limit would be policed.

If it is to be via new technology, we won’t be in the Galileo satellite system unless we pay.

There is to be more quota for under 10m boats.

And EU environmental standards will remain, although that, along with equal access for UK boats, are what we already have.

The end of the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund, which benefits Britain’s fishing ports by £215m, will put at risk regeneration projects after we leave.

The government is offering the Coastal Communities Fund as an alternative.

However, plundering that would risk halting investment for wider seaside town regeneration.

There’s also the suggestion that fishermen will be charged more for what they need to fish.

Many fishermen whose livelihood is precarious may argue that they already pay a high price.

And the whale in the room is still the question of how we will be able to access markets to sell our prawns without friction at the borders or tariffs.

You can have your say by visiting the Defra website at www.gov.uk/government/organisations/department-for-environment-food-rural-affairs

The closing date for any comments or feedback is September 12.