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They voted for Brexit. Many hunters in the UK now feel betrayed.

Bristol, England – An ancient island and maritime nation, the United Kingdom Fishing communities It has a great influence on the country’s identity.

So it is not surprising that their fate looms on the horizon Brixi Negotiations, with politicians who promised the fishermen that they would be big winners afterwards The United Kingdom left the European Union.

But now, many members of the fishing community say they are disappointed by the government. Instead of boosting the industry, they say, the new trade agreement failed to deliver on lawmakers ’promises to Brexit, They stifled their business with red tape And he left the troubled sector to wither more.

“The deal was very shameful and disgraceful – that’s the only way to describe it,” said David Bissell, managing director of Plymouth Tractor Agents, a fish auction company in southwest England. “They broke their word every time.”

Bissell, who voted to leave the European Union in 2016, is not alone in his belief that the Brexit rewards for the fishing industry are largely unfulfilled. Few in the seafood sector are happy with how things are developing, as the details and ramifications of the UK-EU trade agreement underscored concerns and dashed hopes across the industry.

Trucks of Scottish seafood companies pass in front of the House of Representatives in a fishermen protest against red tape after Brexit and restrictions imposed on the Coronavirus.Tolga Akmen / AFP – Getty Images

It just wasn’t supposed to be this way. After all, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has made the fate of the country’s fishermen post-Brexit a central pillar of his message.

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“For the first time since 1973, we will be an independent coastal state with complete control over our waters,” Johnson said in a December 24 speech announcing the new trade agreement, just days before the end of the war. The country completed its economic chapter From the European Union on December 31.

Control of the seas may not have been a major economic concern for the UK – after all, the fishing industry contributed less than 1 per cent of the country’s GDP in 2019. But the symbolic importance of the industry means that in the eleventh – hour of trade negotiations, it has become The issue is a major sticking point.

Phil Trebilcock, a fisherman in the southwest coastal town of Newquay, said of Johnson, “He should have paid it more. He promised her. He really promised that we would return our coastal waters.” Imitating members of the British government, he said, “Oh yeah, we’ll understand it, we’ll get it,” and in the end they didn’t.

Trebilcock, 67, was among Hunters who spoke to NBC News In the summer of 2017 on what Brexit could mean for the industry. At the time, he and others said they were hopeful that the separation from Brussels would allow the UK to do away with the EU’s complicated quota system, which limits the amount of fish its ships can catch, and puts an end to foreign boats hunting fish in their country. waters.

Today, he is disappointed that the deal allows some foreign boats to have continuous access to the country’s coastal waters for at least five and a half years, and says that a gradual increase in the amount of seafood that British fishermen are allowed to fish in UK waters over the same period is not enough. After that, mutual access to territorial waters and new quotas must be negotiated.

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While many fishermen who spoke to NBC News in 2017 cheered for Brexit, many of those who manufacture and export fish have expressed concern about the impending divorce. Some of their concerns have now been realized, as the repercussions of the new trade deal have already begun.

Seafood exporters are complaining that they are incurring new costs due to the extensive paperwork now required to deliver goods to the continent, which is a major concern as the UK exports most of the fish it catches.

Some also say that border inspections and customs declarations have caused significant delays for trucks transporting perishable goods abroad at a time when the Covid-19 pandemic has already lowered market prices and demand.

“Since we left Europe, it has been an absolute nightmare,” said Ian Birx, a fish exporter from Brixham, a fishing town in the English county of Devon.

A seagull peers over fishing vessels anchored in the harbor in Scarborough, northeast England, earlier this month. Olli Scarfe / AFP – Getty Images File

Birx, who voted to leave the European Union, said he lost thousands of pounds in sales due to the Brexit routine, as he was initially unable to export to the continent because he did not have the correct paperwork.

As logistical problems begin to subside, he says he remains concerned that his company will not be able to survive if the increasing cost of the routine paperwork needed to export to the European Union continues.

He said, “If I knew that this would be the result, then obviously I wouldn’t have voted to leave.”

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On January 18, seafood companies staged a protest in London by driving delivery trucks from as far away as Scotland in front of the House of Representatives, with signs declaring “Brexit” and “Inept government destroying the oyster industry!”

Johnson said the cases were “preliminary problems” and pledged to provide a compensation fund of 23 million pounds to companies that had suffered bureaucratic delays and difficulties in delivering their goods “without fault on their part”.

But Birx said any compensation would not be sufficient as it would not cover the ongoing costs exporters face due to Brexit.

“The whole thing ended up in a mess,” he said. “We are very disappointed.”

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