Sue has championed Cumbrian fisheries in a keynote speech to launch the new Labour Friends of Fishing group in Parliament last night.
In her speech, Sue said:
“I hope that this group will go some way to ensure that the fishing industry hears loud and clear that the Labour Party is on your side, and we are here to work with you to help the industry go from strength to strength.
“My constituency includes a stretch of the Solway Firth. There are around 75 fishing boats landing about 4000 tonnes of fish annually. We have a fish processing plant in Maryport, the main fishing port, which recently reopened, assisted by a grant via the Labour-run Allerdale Borough Council, creating 60 jobs.
“Down the road, in Copeland, we have Whitehaven, which at one time was a major Irish Sea fishing port with more than 200 fishing boats. Today, Whitehaven still sees 15,000 tonnes of fish landed each year on its harbourside.
“A 2012 report examined the demand for locally-caught seafood for the hospitality sector. I’m sure you will appreciate the importance of the hospitality sector to our economy in Cumbria.
“In 2015, the Cumbrian Fisheries label was launched with the idea that if fish can be sold locally, the greater the profit for the fishermen and the processors. Backing the scheme are several businesses in my constituency, including the Maryport Fishing Cooperative, the award-winning Fyne Fish and The Trout Hotel in Cockermouth.
“We’re less than three weeks from Small Business Saturday. What better way to support the local community than to go down to the high street and purchase locally caught fresh fish. Cumbria is famous for its sausages – there is no reason why it can’t be famous for its fish and shellfish too. I can recommend Solway Potted Shrimp from Silloth in my patch.
“And it’s not just commercial fishing with trawlers that is important to West Cumbria. Recreational angling brings huge benefits to our local economy. You’ll see recreational anglers on the piers at Maryport, Workington, and Harrington, along the River Derwent or River Ellen, or on the shores of our majestic lakes.
“One of the first issues I worked on as an MP was the potential draining of Cogra Moss, a reservoir used as a trout fishery by the local anglers. Working very closely with the Cockermouth Angling Association, we persuaded United Utilities not to drain the reservoir.
“There’s so much at stake for the fishing sector, and we have this one chance to get things right. It’s a huge challenge, but I’m hopeful. The fishing industry was dealt a poor deal on the way into the EU by the Tory government of the day, so we’re working closely with Keir and the Brexit team to make sure that does not happen on the way out.
“I want to see vision from the Government. The industry needs certainty. Investment and plans are often long term and Government needs to offer the assurances industry needs to keep making those investments in their businesses.
“I hope that Labour Friends of Fishing can make a meaningful contribution to the national fishing debate, at such a crucial time for the future of the sector. In Labour, you have vocal advocates for our fishing communities. We’re on your side, and we’re here to champion the needs of the sector here in Westminster. This is our one chance to get things right – and Labour will rise to the challenge.”