Furious with Europe, British fishermen lament demise of trade

Fri Mar 8, 2013 10:27am EST
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By Maria Golovnina

ABOARD THE WHITBY ROSE, North Sea (Reuters) - His eyes fixed on the North Sea horizon, British skipper Howard Locker steers his boat far out to sea where he hopes to stumble on enough fish to save the day.

But things are not looking good for Locker - one of the last remaining trawler men in the northeastern town of Whitby where fishing quotas, climate change and decades of overfishing have crushed the local fishing industry.

"The market has collapsed," said Locker, who has been fishing out of the harbor for more than 40 years. "When I was 16, I couldn't believe I'd be scraping a living like this."

"We are the last of the great hunters. A lifetime at sea. For what?" Locker added, as gusts of icy wind lashed his face.

Like Locker, most residents of this traditional fishing town are angry. And the focus of that anger is the European Union.

Negotiating fishing quotas with Brussels has long been a source of friction for Britain. The European Union sets limits on how much fish EU member states can catch every year, saying it helps conserve stocks and protect the health of the seas.

But in places like Whitby, home of centuries of seafaring, people blame the EU for destroying their livelihoods.

In the debate on whether Britain should leave the club altogether in a possible referendum by 2017, for many living off the sea, the answer is clear.   Continued...

Small fishing boats dry out in the morning sun by the quayside in Whitby, northern England February 27, 2013. REUTERS/Dylan Martinez