epa08815542 Crew member Nathan Harman pulls up the nets following the second catch of the day on board the fishing trawler 'About Time' in the English Channel, off the south coast of Newhaven, East Sussex, Britain, 10 November 2020 (issued 12 November 2020). Skipper of the wooden-hulled vessel About Time Neil Witney, has been fishing in the English Channel since the mid-1980s and has watched the local industry shrink over the decades. Like many in the trade, he sees Brexit as an opportunity to revive the sector. 'Hopefully at the end of the year we can get some sort of deal, get our waters back, get control of our quota and then hopefully rebuild our industry and the rest of the maritime industry that goes with it,' he said. Fishing has become a major sticking point in the Brexit negotiations. An agreement on the issue is a prerequisite for a future trade deal between the UK and the European Union which, in theory, should be in place by end of the year. Under the current common fisheries policy, EU vessels have access to fishing grounds in the Exclusive Economic Zones of other member states, although quotas on hauls are negotiated every year. Once outside the EU, the UK will have full control over its EEZ, which stretches 200 nautical miles into the North Atlantic. But while Brussels and London pore over the details of a future deal, Witney cracks on with his job. Fishing from small trawlers is extremely weather dependent and he estimates that he is able to head out on between 150 to 180 days per year. Each time, he aims to make two catches, which means his shift can last up to 14 hours. On a typical day, he expects to catch around 30 different species of fish which, subject to quotas and marketability, will all be kept. 'We used to be able to fish for sprats, herrings, mackerel here but this year we've seen a lot of tuna, but we've got no quota for tuna or horse mackerel and we've lost all the market for things like sprats so at the moment it's almost uneconomical
Fishing rights are a major sticking point in UK-EU Brexit negotiations. EPA

What are Brexit’s breaking points?

View from London

Your weekly update from the UK and Europe

      By signing up, I agree to The National's privacy policy
      View from London