VOYAGE STATUE - NELSON ST HULL .

The Article below was written and published in the Hull Daily Mail and is reproduced by kind permission of ex Hull Skipper Ernie Suddaby

ICELANDIC TRADE IS ALL ONE-WAY


09:10 - 15 July 2006
It Was with a great deal of interest that I read about the article "Healing artwork" in the Mail (June 23).

The Voyage statue was recently erected in Nelson Street to represent a thousand years of trading between Hull and Iceland, yet no one seems to mention that over the past 30 years or more the trading seems to have been all one-sided, with Iceland landing fish into the UK whenever it suits them, and just how easy things have been made for Iceland to achieve this.

With the remains of a once-proud deep sea fishing industry we had here in Hull now also in the hands of Icelandic concerns, we are now seeing the full extent of the folly of successive governments and their pathetic efforts to support an industry that for many years served the nation so well in both war and peace.

The mention that Iceland and Britain now have rock-solid trading links surprises me somewhat and I would really like to know what we here in Britain export to Iceland.

Most Icelandic trawlers that were built after the war were built here in East Yorkshire, but these trading links were also severed years ago.

My own memories and that of many more old fishermen from Hull, Grimsby and Fleetwood are of the many men and women who were put out of work in the fishing industry - many men never to go to sea again and the devastation we witnessed in these three major fishing ports.

Yes, only a fool would put the entire blame on Iceland, as both governments did little to reach a solution and, consequently, many people paid a very high price indeed.

Iceland still chooses to remain outside the European Community (EC) and refuses to allow any other country's trawlers to fish inside its territorial waters, yet still seeks the high market prices for its fish in Hull and Grimsby and other countries of the EC - and who could ask for a better situation than that.

It is now 30 years since British trawlers withdrew from Icelandic waters and the political situation has changed a great deal since those days.

Norway, which also chose to remain outside the EC through all this time, has always granted a small amount of fish from their waters to our vastly reduced trawler fleet.

However, from Iceland there comes nothing - except statues.

If it wants to offer a real hand of friendship, I would suggest an offer to allow 20 trawlers from Britain and the EEC to fish within Icelandic waters over a three to five-year period. This would be a start and also see how genuine the hand of friendship between the two countries is with a bit of give and take working both ways and not just in one direction.

Ernie Suddaby,

Cod War veteran,

Hull.

 

 

Hull City Council was supported by the British and Icelandic governments,private sector companies in Hull, and theBritish Embassy in Iceland in the commissioning of the two artworks.The sculpture facing the Humber is made from bronze on a basalt rock plinth, and was unveiled by Icelandic President Olafur Ragnar Grimsson.
And the unveiling of the Vik monument, made from aluminium, was attended by Icelandic Foreign Minister Valgerour Sverrisdottir, with Lord Mayor Trevor Larsen leading a party of delegates from Hull.

The project received extensive television coverage across Iceland, lifting Hull’s profile in the country. And it is hoped the feeling of goodwill generated by the sculptures will ripple through the business community of the two nations, bringing more Icelandic investment and jobs to Hull. Lord Mayor Trevor Larsen said: “The people of Vik and Iceland have a special bond with the city and people of Hull, and I regard them more as family than as friends. “The Cod Wars were a difficult period in our history, but now, 30 years on, we can look back in a sense of reconciliation.We have moved forward. “The sculptures are magnificent and have generated a lot of interest and publicity. Hopefully, this will encourage more trade and business between Hull and Iceland.” Sculptress Steinunn Thorarinsdottir said I hope the monuments in Hull and Vik are a lasting tribute to the close relationship between our two communities.

On reflection whilst looking at the statute I wondered if this was to be the sign of a new beginning in the chapter of Hulls maritime history, a chapter where the naked being of the statue, sets forth as Hull strives to become a top ten city. With the marina, the deep and the redevelopment of the Nelson St area, it seems the strategic placing of this statue conforms to the neatness of a place which has evolved to entice the tourists. A chapter in which we have the absence of a specific memorial to our fishermen, we are therefore left to adopt the time served memorial of the Boulevard. A time when the Arctic Corsair one of the vessels from the greatest deep water fishing fleet in the world is placed not close to the dock she sailed from but along a river, which was never her true home and having no pride of place such as the Spurn Lightvessel in the marina. A time where a council and a new generation are eager to forget and place away the rich heritage of our ancestors who forged Hull into a successful city. Whilst there have been token jestures there has been very little given back to the fishing families of this city, and without the concerted effort and dedication of a few members and the families themselves, and the volutary organization of S.T.A.N.D and the B.F.A our heritage would have been lost as quick as the industry itself.

My second reflection on the statue was seeing the naked being as a once proud Hull man, who worked in the most dangerous industry in the world, a trawlerman stripped of his livelihood and deserted, facing the waters he had sailed with an unexpected outcome, denied compensation or recompense for serving a lifetime in the Hull fishing industry.

Whilst admittedly I do not have the first hand experience such as that of ex Skipper Ernie Suddaby but agree wholeheartedly that Iceland had a no lose situation and whilst not entirely to blame for the demise of the fishing industry in Hull was a great influence upon it. Whilst there has been officially three Cod Wars between Iceland and the UK, there has been confrontation between the two since Hull vessels first fished the Icelandic waters in the 1890`s. Overfishing has also been prevalent throughout the past century and a half and brought to the attention of the industry as early as 1860, and in todays climate even the smallest of UK vessels struggle to cover costs in a ever decreasing quota and days at sea ratio for UK vessels.

After been a very poor country without Sovereignty untill the early 1900`s, Icelands evolution and economical growth was influenced somewhat by the success of foreign fishermen, who fished the waters around her coast. After many years of foreign fishermen contributing in many ways to the economical growth of Iceland the door was finally closed shut in 1976. Today Iceland is the 7th richest country in the world and 80% of her income is derived from exporting fish, of which they now sell without competition at the very ports they helped close. There is No Doubt that the main reason for Iceland not entering the European Union was to protect her fishing boundaries. There is also no doubt that Iceland continues to see benefit from exporting fish to the European Union.

In 1975 Hull was the principle deep water trawling port in the UK with 50% of the country`s deep water capacity. Hull had 80% of the country`s freezer trawlers and 37% of it`s distant water wet fish vessels. At this time it was estimated that the British Fishing industry was making losses of 9 million per year, with a total of 262 British Fishing vessels making an approximate individual loss of £90 per day at sea per vessel.

 

Hull Registered Vessels
1973
1976
1982
 
111
73
18
No of Annual Landings
1973
1975
1981 - 1982
 
1133
850
114
Tonnage landed Hull Fish Dock - x 000 Tons
1973
1975
1981 - 1982
 
147.4
132.8
17.6
Total Employed all parts of industry
1973
1976
1982
 
11,000
8,600
2,500
Sea going personnel including Skippers & Mates
1973
1976
1982
 
2,307
1,850
619

 

FISH LANDINGS JULY / AUG/ SEPT 1982

WET
FROZEN
 
Icelandic
UK Based
Inshore
Total
 
UK Based
Norwegian
Total
July
1,414
299
1,713
 
2,410
1,024
3,434
August
1,016
405
6
1,427
 
1,336
442
1,778
September
1,424
466
21
1,911
 
385
385
           
Totals
3,854
1,170
27
5,051
 
4,131
1,466
5,597