Countryfile presenter Charlotte Smith spoke to several UK fishermen and women on the BBC show today to find out whether leaving the European Union had positively impacted the country’s fishing industry and provided them with the outcome they had hoped for. However, viewers took to Twitter to slam the broadcaster for its negative coverage of Brexit.
Charlotte began: “The waters that surround us have long been at the heart of our national identity and at the heart of major political sea change.
“Over the years, the UK fishing industry has just about endured no matter what’s been thrown at it. Even sales of the nation’s favourite fishy takeaway are holding up despite the stormy economic waters of a global pandemic but what about those who bring in the catch of the day?
“Many of the UK’s 12,000 fishermen voted for Brexit because they believed a deal promised them control of our waters and our fish stocks.
“But when it came, fresh fish and seafood exporters were far from happy with the agreement swiftly highlighting their frustration.”
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“Within days of the Brexit deal new custom arrangements and red tape were causing ruinous delays,” she continued.
“Delays that proved a nightmare for Welsh exporter Nerris Edwards. She says she had to fill in 52 different pieces of paperwork to export 900 kilos of shellfish to Europe.”
Nerris explained: “One week you’ve got it right, the next week they wanted different colour ink on their health certificates.
“It’s really really stressful I can’t tell you. Our shellfish is dying on the lorry for every hour that we’re held up.”
“But for some fishermen, the paperwork is the least of their problems,” Charlotte revealed. “They’ve now been banned from exporting live oysters, mussels, clams and cockles to the EU unless they’ve been treated in purification plants.
“That’s been described as unacceptable by Defra ( which is seeking an immediate solution.
“The impact of all that is still being felt by crews around the country and they’re angry. They say in negotiations with the EU, the government sold them out.”
Chair of Hastings Fishermen’s Protection Society, Paul Joy revealed he voted for Brexit as the industry was promised a 12-mile exclusion zone around the area’s waters so the fishing boats would be left undisturbed.
Paul explained: “Well it was promised we would have a minimum of a 12-mile limit if we took back control of territorial waters and unfortunately that was caved in at the last minute as a concession for other advantages for the country.”
“[Fishing] wouldn’t be an advantageous project to become a fisherman today and it’s not something you’d want to invest money into for the future,” he added.
Countryfile viewers were infuriated by the segment as one angry fan tweeted: “BBC Countryfile doing what it does best by saying Brexit was a bad thing.”
“Here we go ten minutes in and the B-word gets a mention #countryfile,” another shared.
Someone else added: “BBC Countryfile is on and would you believe it, Brexit’s the problem!”
“What is happening to Countryfile I feel like I am watching a politics show. Switching off,” a fourth viewer said.
Another remarked: “Nine minutes in and I’m switching off. A new [personal best] #countryfile.”
“Here we go… Party political broadcast #countryfile,” a sixth viewer vented.
Countryfile continues on BBC One on Sunday at 7pm.