Impassioned Letter From Brixham Fisherman To Defecting MP Sarah Wollaston

Impassioned Letter From Brixham Fisherman To Defecting MP Sarah Wollaston

Dear Dr Sarah Wollaston, 

                                          I voted for you in the last general election on the understanding that, although you personally voted against Brexit, you would honour the will of the majority.

54% of your constituents voted for Brexit. Not one kind of Brexit or another, just Brexit. Nothing more nothing less. In my life experience nothing worth having has come without some effort, self-sacrifice and pain. I can’t help likening Brexit process to my cancer treatment 5 years ago.

Like the British nation, I thought I was healthy going into diagnosis and treatment. The process of getting rid of the cancer was long, painful and seemed interminable. In the end I am cured, and life is good. 

Since the Brexit referendum I have certainly woken up to what is going on in the EU. I’m sure many people have.

I don’t wish to sound melodramatic, but the cancer of the Euro and the top-heavy administration seems doomed to destroy the EU. Italy has debts it will never be able to re-pay and Germany is now in recession, dragged down by the weaker economies in Europe.

Without doubt there are good things to have come out of the EU, but nothing the British people could not adopt and improve upon. History’s proven us to be a tough, resilient, resourceful bunch. I’m sure we can get through the painful process and be all the better for it. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.

I voted for you – and the Conservative party – as those best placed to deliver on that democratic referendum result.

I can’t help feeling betrayed by what seems to me a perfidious act of joining a party diametrically opposed to the wishes of that majority of your electorate. Weakening the hand of your former allies on the government benches.

In my 40 plus years as a fisherman, I have struggled under the jackboot of the CFP. Having to stand by as more and more EU boats were granted access to our waters and decimated our fisheries. Helplessly watching as once thriving fishing ports fell into decline and British boats were decommissioned for scrap.

I am skipper of a Brixham registered beam trawler Carhelmar BM 23. The boat is managed by the multi-million-pound company Interfish. In the run up to the referendum I was a bit ambiguous as to how I felt. On the one hand, most of my career was under the disastrous CFP. On the other, many of our markets are abroad and I wasn’t sure of the greater economic consequences.

It wasn’t until I met up with our company owner Jan Colam (himself of Dutch origin) that I was fully convinced of the long-term benefits. He allowed us to join the Fishing for Leave rally up the Thames.

A long day that felt very good as we grabbed the media’s attention to deliver the message about how strongly we felt to the heart of the Remain capital. Despite the likes of Bob Geldof trying to throw scorn on us. 

Now I sense a golden opportunity with the chance to take back control of the management of our bountiful resource. There’s hope of a real future for my son other young people. They are the future generation of British fishermen who just want to make an honest living putting food in people’s mouths.

Of course, there is a long tradition of European coastal countries having access to our waters, and with a no deal Brexit that would have to be negotiated on our terms.

With Britain getting back a fair and proportionate share of the available Total Allowable Catches (TACs) agreed between coastal states under the principle of Zonal Attachment – not just a few extra kilos in return or bartered for agricultural and trade concessions as we saw going into the EEC.

Such access should only be based on reciprocal swaps in appropriate fisheries. With visiting boats having access only if subject to strict enforcement and monitoring conditions – such as having to land their catch into Britain to ensure compliance.

Stringent management, like the Icelandic and Norwegian fisheries introduced, could see our fisheries that have been over exploited by EU vessels in the past recovering to greater abundance and sustainability.

The technologies exist to protect our waters. Couple this with modest outlay on fisheries protection vessels, and a robust no compromise enforcement policy, and I’m sure that visiting vessels would toe the line.

By getting our countries rightful share of TACs we could see already profitable fishing ports like Brixham, Newlyn, Plymouth and other ports nationwide doubling their income and thriving.

Taking back control of our rightful TAC share on exit means an extra £1bn in catch value alone. Then there’s the added value from processing, around another £4bn. Hardly insignificant sums.

A portion of the extra income generated could help finance more of our own comprehensive scientific studies to gather more stock and environmental data. Coupled with landing and monitoring data this could form the basis of new, realistic and sustainable effort control.

We have a huge opportunity with Brexit. Failing to leave will see British fishing and coastal communities that you and other MPs represent decline further.

I can’t blame you for doing what you think is best but this time it’s at odds to what I, and I dare say many other previous supporters, think you should do.

So, I’m asking you, in the interests of democracy, to please stand down as MP for Totnes and force a by-election. Then you can put your standpoint to the electorate and see if enough of your constituents still support your different position.

That will give the Conservative party a chance to field a candidate supportive of the PM’s line who we can vote for.

Personally, I think Boris requires all the support we can give. It’s become apparent that the EU needs a tough no-nonsense approach of a hard negotiator. With a no deal Brexit likely there is a possibility the EU negotiators may be more flexible. We hope, cometh the hour, cometh the man.

Thank you for all the good work you have done but now you must put your change in position to your electors.

Regards, Gerald Podschies. 
Skipper of Carhelmar BM 23