Grimsby: a fish in troubled waters

Although some might point to a link between Grimsby’s name and its nature, its reputation was not always so dreary.

The town, recently the subject – and target – of Sacha Baron Cohen’s latest movie, was recently voted as the worst place to live in the UK which, somewhat peculiarly, was not disputed by many of its residents.

The cause for it supposed malaise is based upon international restrictions which have hindered the town since the 1950s.

Where over 400 trawlers once were, Grimsby’s relic port now houses only five. This number is surprisingly insignificant, given that the town hosts the largest fish market in the country.

The majority of the market’s fish, however, is imported from Iceland, who also happened to be the UK’s major opponent in the Cod Wars. These were a major source of distress for the region between the 1950s and 1970s, and perhaps remain so.

These centred on the allowed access for trawlers into fishery zones, which initially allowed fishermen to trawl around the borders of their native country. These were breached in instances and, in some cases, provoked the firing of guns between ships, although casualties were very limited.

This battle was largely political, however, and was eventually lost to Iceland, much to the dismay of the British fishing industry. Iceland’s threat to stop letting NATO use its military base eventually proved crucial in deciding the case, and towns such as Grimsby have suffered ever since.

Britain’s fishing industry will be paying close attention to the EU referendum on 23rd June. Its outcome is likely to have a big impact on the UK’s fishing industry, which many feel is debilitated by quotas imposed onto it under EU law.

Nowadays, despite its industrial decay, Grimsby’s port – which has been in use since the medieval period – remains a remarkable sight, and now has other uses. A river terminal was opened in 2013, which allows large numbers of imports to enter the country; a Marine Control Centre is also being built, which will be located on the port.



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