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The Prime Minister’s spokesman said on Monday the UK’s negotiating team, led by David Frost, is working to “bridge the significant gaps that still remain between our positions in the most difficult areas” of talks with Brussels.
Fishing chiefs across the UK will be watching closely what sort of a deal Mr Johnson will come back with after watching their industry suffer under the bloc’s controversial Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) for decades.
In Grimsby, the desire for Britain to take back control of its bountiful fishing grounds played a major factor in the locals’ decision to vote Leave in the 2016 EU referendum.
By the middle of the 20th Century the Lincolnshire town had risen up to become the world’s largest fishing port.
But due to the strict quotas imposed by the EU and the huge influx of European boats into UK waters, Grimsby experienced a devastating fall from grace.
North East Lincolnshire, the local authority area which Grimsby is part of, voted by 69.9 percent to quit the EU.
Grimsby was once a bustling town full of fishermen coming ashore with their pockets bulging with cash, eager to spend it in the area’s many businesses.
But Kurt Christensen, an ex-fishing merchant, recalled how the rules stipulated by the EU had a devastating effect on local skippers.
He said the quota system ushered in by the bloc in the early Eighties was acutely unfair to British fishermen, many of whom were forced to find jobs elsewhere or go on the dole once they had used up their annual quota.
He said he was disgusted to see talented fishermen having to work in cake factories because of the unfairness of the sytem.
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Mr Christensen told the BBC: “You know, you’d got guys in a cake factory – perfectly brilliant skippers sticking cherries on cakes.
“Where does your pride go with that? It’s wrong.”
The aim of the EU’s quota system was to protect and preserve fish stocks.
For many species, European trawlers were allocated a much greater amount compared to their British counterparts.
For example, French fishermen are entitled to fish 84 percent of the quota for cod in the English Channel while the UK gets only nine percent.
Fishing remains one of the most contentious issues in post-Brexit trade talks between Lord Frost and Michel Barnier.
On Monday the Prime Minister’s spokesman insisted the UK remains committed to working through the tough issues in a bid to strike a deal.
The spokesman said: “We are continuing to work hard throughout this intensive period of talks to seek to bridge the significant gaps that still remain between our positions in the most difficult areas.”
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