The Isle of Man’s historic herring industry is being revived after a quarter of a century thanks to a post-Brexit deal with the UK over fishing quotas.
The island’s fishermen will be able to land four times as many herring as before and will also be allowed to catch 235 tonnes of langoustine, worth more than £2m a year to the island’s economy.
The Manx fishing industry was brought to its knees by the European Union’s Common Fisheries Policy in the 1980s, which placed strict limits on the size of fish caught.
The island’s fishermen have been reduced to scraping scallops for a living. At the turn of the millennium, herring quotas were too small to be commercially viable.
But after the UK took control of its waters after leaving the EU, the government gave the Isle of Man a quota of 100 tonnes of oily fish.
“A once in a lifetime opportunity.”
The herring industry has been on the island since at least the 13th century. At its height in the early 19th century, it had 350 fishing vessels.
Cured herring is exported to Britain, Ireland, Italy and the Mediterranean. In the 1820s, Scottish and Cornish fishermen made way to share in the bounty of Manx waters.
In the year During the evacuation of Dunkirk in 1940, he was one of 15 soldiers put out on a boat registered in the Isle of Man.
Under the terms of the UK’s Brexit deal with the EU, the UK is phasing out its territorial waters. Therese Coffey, the environment secretary, has been negotiating with the Isle of Man government – a self-governing Crown dependency – and the Manx Fish Producers Association for the past two years.
Manx Environment Minister Claire Barber said the new quotas were a “once-in-a-generation opportunity” to revive the island’s herring industry, which would be managed sustainably under the agreed quota system.
Herring stocks in the Irish Sea have doubled since the 1990s, and the herring fishing season only lasts from July to October.
Herring, known in the Manx language as Skedan, was once so important to the diet and food security of the island that Manx legend tells how Skedan became the king of the sea – something that is still celebrated in Manx folk music.
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