Hull trawler sold to Greenlandic fishing interests as owners blame government failure in post-Brexit negotiations
The Icelandic owners of Norma Mary sold the 32-year-old trawler, whose crew consisted mainly of fishermen from Hull and Grimsby, to Greenlandic fishing interests, accusing “the government of not negotiating the fishing opportunities”.
News of the sale emerged when Hull West and Hessle MP Emma Hardy told the House of Commons on Thursday that the country had been promised a “sea of opportunity” that turned out to be nothing more than a stagnant pond ”.
Ms Hardy, who had ensured the debate, accused Government and Environment Secretary George Eustice of sitting down “overall the industry is slowly sinking”.
It comes weeks after the government ended talks without a deal that would allow the UK to fish in Norwegian subarctic waters.
This meant that Hull-based Kirkella worth £ 52million – operated by a UK company which is a joint venture between Samherji and Parlevliet & Van der Plas – is deprived of a key fishing spot.
In addition to a hundred direct jobs, hundreds more were employed in the supply chain.
Ms Hardy said the once proud UK fleet in distant waters had been ‘buried below the waterline by a government which has failed miserably to strike a one-off fishing deal with one of its neighbors northern coastal areas ”.
Kirkella caught around 8% of all fish sold in UK fish and chip shops.
The MP said that in the absence of an agreement with Norway or Greenland, cod caught by the British “will be lost to us, to be replaced by the same fish, caught by Norway and exported duty free on the UK market. “
And she added that many MPs would reflect “how tragic it is” that the government cannot keep even a small portion of “British national dish”.
However, Fisheries Minister Victoria Prentis defended the government’s position and said Norway landed from UK waters eight times the value of what UK landed from Norwegian waters, with an even greater differential 21 times tall for the Faroese.
The total effective deficit for the UK was £ 218m for Norway and £ 24m for the Faroe Islands.
She said the government was unwilling to “give free valuable access to our waters”, adding: “An acceptable deal for Norway that would have retained some of this real imbalance would not have been in our national interest. . ”
Greenland, meanwhile, has received around € 16.5 million from the EU to access its waters.
Ms Prentis said: “Parliament must understand that it is difficult to replicate the agreements the EU has made with Greenland.
“This would undoubtedly involve a direct payment of taxpayer money that would benefit the private companies that capture the quota.
“I don’t see us wanting to go this route.”
The minister said he believed around 30 crews were still employed on the Kirkella, which still had “significant” fishing opportunities off Svalbard.
Environment Secretary George Eustice had written to his Norwegian counterpart expressing “his desire to work very closely with Norway this year and awaiting the official start of negotiations in September for 2022”.
A spokesperson for Samherji said the sale of Norma Mary was “devastating news” for the crew.
He added: “Due to the UK government’s failure to negotiate fishing opportunities for Norma Mary, we were reluctantly forced to sell her to Greenlandic fishing interests.
“We know there are opportunities that could have saved Norma Mary for the British fleet, and it is now imperative that Defra opens talks with Norway, Greenland and others to secure them.
“If so, we will bring in another ship and hopefully provide new opportunities for the crew members who are now out of work.”
Fiona Nicholls, an ocean activist at Greenpeace UK, said the UK fishing industry has been left ‘dry’ after Brexit, and the loss of 25 more jobs in Hull and Grimsby is’ absolutely not good news ”.
However, she added: “It is also not good news that the Norma Mary, a destructive industrial bottom trawler, continues to trade elsewhere.
“Industrial bottom trawlers destroy the seabed habitats that underpin the entire marine ecosystem, indiscriminately capture large amounts of marine life and disrupt the vast carbon stores in the deep oceans, which would otherwise remain safe. in the seabed, aggravating the climate emergency.
“Bottom trawling is one of the most destructive fishing practices, and the fact that it is still allowed to continue in UK protected areas is downright ludicrous. The UK government must prioritize protection oceans.”