Long-neglected ports such as Lowestoft, Grimsby and Whitby could be given a new lease of life, along with Cornish coastal towns and seaside resorts such as Scarborough.
At the moment 60 per cent of Britain’s fishing stock, worth £650million a year, is caught by foreign vessels from the EU.
Environment Secretary Michael Gove confirmed in June that after Brexit, British fishermen will have exclusive rights to fish in a 12-mile zone around our coast.
At a meeting at historic Fishmongers’ Hall in London last week, the National Federation of Fishermen’s Organisations and the Scottish Fishermen’s Federation predicted that reclaiming control of British waters would be one of the “great successes” of Brexit.
The SFF has forecast that the fishing industry could grow by 50 per cent to be worth around £1.2billion a year, triggering an expansion in overall UK economic output and employment worth £2.7billion and 30,000 jobs.
Brexit Secretary David Davis will today reject EU negotiator Michel Barnier’s two-week deadline to agree a “divorce” settlement, insisting that Britain would not “give away billions of pounds” to Brussels.
Mr Davis said: “In every negotiation each side tries to control the timetable. The real deadline is December 14 or thereabouts. We will take our time to get to the right answer.”
He added that the UK was preparing for “every outcome”, including a no-deal scenario which would leave European fishermen with no right to access British waters.
Former prime minister Edward Heath was accused of “betraying” British fishermen when he handed over our fishing rights as a price for joining the Common Market in 1973.
Under the Common Fisheries Policy, EU vessels caught 10 times more fish from our waters than we did in theirs in 2016.
European fishermen landed 173 times more herring, 45 times more whiting, 16 times more mackerel and 14 times more haddock and cod from our waters, according to research by Dr Ian Napier, of the NAFC Marine Centre in the Shetlands.
Future quotas will form part of the UK’s negotiations with Brussels although technically after March 29, 2019, the UK will be able to control full access to its waters under a new Fisheries Act.
Bertie Armstrong, of the SFF, said Theresa May must stand firm.
“Imagine the French giving away 60 per cent of their grapes free of charge for just the cost of transporting them,” he said.
“We need to be a bit robust about this.”
Barrie Deas, of the NFFO, said: “The fact that we need to fish in EU waters much, much less than they need to fish in ours gives us a lot more leverage. There’s been tremendous suffering over the past 40 years because of the CFP, which is why we see getting out as a way of regenerating some of these ports.
“Cornwall and places like Plymouth, Hastings, Eastbourne and Newhaven have really suffered. Scarborough, Whitby and North Shields would also see regeneration.”