East Hull Labour MP Karl Turner’s move to set up an annual national remembrance day for lost trawlermen looks certain to go ahead for 2023, reports Brian W Lavery.
The MP told Fishing News that transport minister Robert Court spoke to him before the specially called Commons debate last Monday night.
Mr Turner said: “The minister came to see me before the debate and said he thought the idea of a national remembrance day was an excellent one.
“He added that he had already instructed civil servants to put a consultation in place and to get it underway immediately.
“To be fair, Robert Court has been very supportive.”
The idea for the memorial day came from one of Mr Turner’s constituents. “I would love to be able to say it was my idea – but it was a chap called Ian Voase, a volunteer on the Arctic Corsair [Hull’s museum trawler], who came to me with the idea of a national remembrance day for the trawlermen.”
Fishing ports across the country have their own memorial days for local fishermen lost to the sea.
In Hull, Lost Trawlerman’s Day is usually held on the last Sunday of January each year. Hundreds gather by the side of the river Humber to cast flowers into the water in memory of the 6,000 men from the port estimated to have perished across a century of deep-sea fishing.
Each year a prayer tent is set up alongside the fishermen’s memorial on the riverside, and the crew of the Humber Rescue service pays tribute with a vigil on the river.
Mr Turner added: “I think the national remembrance day should be on the same day as the one we hold here in Hull.
“The last Sunday in January, when the weather is usually freezing, serves as a little reminder of a fraction of what these men and boys suffered to put fish on our plates.”
Many MPs from fishing constituencies across the country joined in the Commons adjournment debate called by Mr Turner.
“I was delighted to see the interest shown by MPs across the parties. The idea was very well supported indeed,” he said. Orkney and Shetland MP
Alistair Carmichael spoke in favour of the idea at the debate, saying: “This is a proposition that I am sure will have support in coastal and island communities right around the country. I was brought up on Islay, with a population of 3,500 people, and even of those who were at school with me, I can count no fewer than six who have lost their lives in the industry.
“The real benefit that would come from what he proposes is not just that it would be an act of remembrance but, in its own small way, it would help to improve the culture within the industry so that the many lives that were lost needlessly would not be lost in future generations.”
Karl Turner added that he has written to every MP with a constituency interest in fishing to get them behind the idea.
He told Fishing News: “I am very encouraged by the support, and I will be very surprised if the memorial day is not in place in 2023.”
This story was taken from the latest issue of Fishing News. For more up-to-date and in-depth reports on the UK and Irish commercial fishing sector, subscribe to Fishing News here or buy the latest single issue for just £3.30 here.