Brexit uncertainty casts doubt over Hastings’ fishing future

Hastings fishermen have declared worries over their industry’s future as the wait for the UK’s exit from the European Union continues.

Since the date for Brexit passed on March 29th, concerns have been growing as MPs resume debating on Theresa May’s withdrawal agreement.

The earliest the UK can leave is June 1st, though it’s likely Brexit could be delayed even further, as Britain are set to vote in the upcoming European elections.

Mick Barrow, a committee member at Hastings Fishermen’s Museum, started fishing when he was 15 until his retirement eight years ago.

The 75-year-old believes the delays could be catastrophic for the country’s fishing. He said:

“If we could get the fishing back then I’m sure it would be back to how it used to be, years ago, but I don’t think it will happen.

“Why delay it? More people voted to come out and now they keep dragging their heels. And, in the end, they’ll probably get their own way and we’ll stay in.”

The risk of a no-deal Brexit is ever present, and could result in British vessels having no access to over £88 million worth of fish in EU members’ exclusive economic zones.

Paul Joy, 69, one of Hastings’ working fishermen, admitted his frustration. He said: “I’m very disappointed with the MPs who have thrown any bargaining chip out the window by saying there could be no-deal.

“A very clear mandate was given to the government by the people, to leave. The ballot paper only said ‘do you want to remain, or do you want to leave’ and there was no mention of a deal. Now they [the government] won’t move unless there is one”

Meanwhile, Stuart Hamilton, 63, insists leaving without a deal won’t be the end of the world. He said: “If it’s a no-deal, we’ll live with it and we’ll overcome it.

“It’s the younger people who aren’t in the fishing industry who are the problem as it’s very hard to bring people in as they can earn a regular wage somewhere else.

“Hastings is a weather-dependent port and it’s a big if and but to get anyone in.”

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