Richard Brewer, owner of the trawler Copious, has thrown down the gauntlet to new fisheries minister George Eustice.
Mr Brewer called on Richard Benyon’s replacement to visit Whitby and to “give us a chance to get on the road to recovery” at December’s meeting of the EU’s Agriculture and Fisheries Council.
The industry has been hit by tight fishing quotas from Europe that have forced many local fishermen out of business.
“We want to keep going,” Mr Brewer insists, “but a lot of vessels have had to stop because of political pressure.
“My son is a sixth generation fisherman, but it’s a continual battle with Europe. There used to be hundreds of boats from all the way down the Yorkshire coast, now there’s just a handful.”
The Copious is the last large fishing vessel in Whitby and its owner believes over-fishing from British boats is not the issue. He also demanded better support from the government.
“Our only financial worry is if British politicians screw it up again, but they have a chance of throwing us a lifeline.”, he added.
Eustice (42), from Cornwall, was appointed Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Natural Environment, Water and Rural Affairs, last month, following a mass Cabinet reshuffle by David Cameron. Mr Eustice started out by saying he wanted to “loosen the EU stranglehold on the British fishing industry.”
Meanwhile, the Copious crew enjoyed a good four days last week, in the North East with prawns taking precedence over fish.
“We found a significant amount of prawns”, Mr Brewer told the Gazette.
Copious has been fishing the stretch between North Shields and Hartlepool, since guard duty finished recently.
“We’re starting to do better”, Mr Brewer added. “We’re concentrating our efforts more on prawns than fish.”
With predictions of an apocalyptic winter there were fears that stocks would be down. However, for now, things seem to be steady and even improving in certain regions.
The Copious has also been on ‘guard duty’ recently where they help protect underwater piping and wind farms.
They were stationed 12 miles north of the Dutch coast protecting sites worth millions of pounds from damage by passing trawlers and other sailing vessels.
“Because we have limited days when we can fish, we have to do this sort of work,” Mr Brewer said.