Fishing remains a vital part of the Cornish economy. More than £20 million of fish is landed every year in Newlyn alone and the total value of the industry, when seafood processing is factored in, is worth almost £100 million to the Cornish economy.
However, in West Cornwall there are several challenges – fishermen want a good deal out of Brexit and the port of Newlyn needs investment if it is to maximise its potential in the future.
6th April, 2016
Derek and Fisheries Minister George Eustice meet Paul Trebilcock, CEO of the Newlyn-based Cornish Fish Producers Organisation (CFPO), discussing the potential benefits of leaving the EU; concerns about haddock, spurdog and small-eyed ray stocks were also raised.
Derek meets inshore fishermen at Cadgwith to celebrate a victory over plans by the Marine Management Organisation (MMO), who said that because fishermen were not catching enough fish, they may face being penalised.
Derek said: “Various initiatives that were intended to support the industry are in fact frustrating the inshore fleet, which is so important to our coastal fishing communities. A commercially sustainable fishing industry is very important for these small coastal villages as the set-up to support their industry relies on a critical mass of inshore boats and fishermen to make ends meet.
“At our meeting in Cadgwith, we agreed a number of measures that I am taking forward to help the situation.”
27th July, 2016
Derek meets fishermen in Newlyn and hears their priorities following the Leave Referendum vote a month earlier. These include taking full control of UK waters out to the 200-mile limit, the 0-12 mile limit to be for UK fishermen only, a greater share of quota and the continuation of tariff-free access to EU markets.
7th August, 2017
Derek accompanies Fisheries Minister George Eustice on a tour of Newlyn harbour and pier, discussing infrastructure opportunities with the harbourmaster Rob Parsons, attending the AGM of the CPFO and meeting fishermen for an informal drink to hear their concerns.
12th September, 2016
Derek meets again with Paul Trebilcock, to discuss CFPO aspirations.
8th September, 2017
Environment Secretary Michael Gove, George Eustice and Derek meet Newlyn harbourmaster Rob Parsons to hear his aspirations for the port.
10th November, 2017
Paul Trebilcock (CFPO) hosts meeting with Derek, Colin Groves, chair of the New Zealand-based SeaDragon organisation, and marine consultant Lucy Parsons to discuss the possibility of extracting Omega-3 oils from Newlyn-landed fish.
17th November, 2017
Cornwall Council leader Adam Paynter travels to Newlyn to meet Paul Trebilcock with Derek, where they highlighted the importance of fishing to the Cornish economy.
20th November, 2017
Derek attends a Brexit Fisheries meeting in Westminster, hosted by Owen Paterson.
7th December, 2017
Derek speaks in Parliament at the annual fishing debate, urging the Government to give more support to the Cornish fishing industry. He highlighted the development plans for Newlyn Harbour which would encourage “innovation, unlock potential within the local fishers and bring in necessary improvements to current infrastructure” but called for an overhaul of current funding systems which “do not adequately recognise the needs of the Cornish and wider fishing industries. Small fishing businesses in my constituency that do not have reliable cash flows struggle to capitalise on reimbursement-based grants.”
He also argued for a level playing field when it comes to the regulations concerning development. He pointed out that those in the Cornish fishing industry look despairingly at their Scottish counterparts who have long been able to use European Regional Development funding for ports and harbours. This is because Scotland negotiated a block exemption on state aid rules.
27th February, 2018
In another Westminster debate on UK fishing, Derek argues that fishing should not be part of any transition deal and that leaving the EU presents a ‘once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the UK fishing industry to take a different and better path’; see article below 'Derek Thomas speaks during this week’s Westminster Hall debate on Future UK Fisheries Policy'.
19th March, 2018
As part of a group of MPs, Derek meets David Davis, Minister for Exiting Europe, and the Chief Whip to register disapproval at the fact that EU fishing policies will continue to be in force during the transition period.
4th May, 2018
Derek welcomes Fisheries Minister George Eustice to Newlyn to discuss the industry's future with members of the CFPO; Mr Eustice assures those attending that fishing will be a 'totemic' issue during negotiations as the UK prepares to leave the EU.
4th July, 2018
In a House of Commons debate, Derek presses Environment Secretary Michael Gove on the future of the fishing industry in West Cornwall. Mr Gove said Newlyn was one of the most important ports in the South West and assured Derek that the Government would work to ensure that the port gets the investment it needs in order to regenerate and to take advantage of additional opportunities when the UK is no longer party to the Common Fisheries Policy.