Cod Wars veteran and Kirkella crewman says last hope for Hull's fishing fleet has been extinguished

A life at sea is all that Charlie Waddy has known and most of his younger shipmates who have learned the ropes at his side over the years.

Kirkella's first mate Charlie Waddy

Now, one of Hull’s longest serving fishermen, who experienced the devastation caused by the Cod Wars in the 1970s, is witnessing the last hope of Yorkshire’s distant-water fishing fleet go under - a victim of failed post-Brexit negotiations with the Norwegians.

Mr Waddy, 62, had been preparing to retire next year, but took his medical a few days ago, ready for the final chapter of his working life on board as first mate on the state-of-the-art £52m Hull trawler Kirkella.

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But it now appears that Kirkella has landed her last Arctic-caught cod into the city’s King George Dock after talks between the Norwegians and the UK Government ended without a deal.

The Kirkella tied up at Hull Docks Picture Jonathan Gawthorpe

Mr Waddy, who has been 46 years at sea, said Kirkella was the light at the end of the tunnel.

That light has now gone out.

He said: “I’m shocked because I thought we would get something, even if it was the same as what we had.

“All the lads are self-employed, and they’ll have to get work elsewhere. The oil industry isn’t recruiting like it used to - in the 1970s everyone went on the oil side, to Abu Dhabi, but there’s nothing to go to.

“My life has been fishing - I’ve done it since I was 10 years old.”

One of his crewmates is Liam Olsen, who has worked alongside Mr Waddy since he was 16. Now 34, his wife gave birth to their seventh child last week.

Mr Waddy said: “He’s one of the finest bosuns you’ll get. He’ll get work because he’s such a good worker, go to Scotland, wherever, but all he’s ever known is fishing.”

Sir Keir Starmer, who was in Hull on a visit on Friday, said Boris Johnson had failed to deliver on promises.

He said the city’s fishing community had been betrayed, adding: “Whichever way people voted - whether to leave or remain in the EU - they don’t deserve this betrayal from the Prime Minister.”

As well as around 100 direct jobs, including crewmembers from Hull, Grimsby and Fleetwood, hundreds more were employed in the supply chain.

The talks between the UK and Norway, which had been going on since January, were crucial to settle issues of access to what are Kirkella’s most important fishing grounds in a post-Brexit world.

However, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) said on Thursday the UK and Norwegian positions were too far apart to reach an agreement this year.

No access or quota exchange agreements have been reached with the Faroes either.

Mr Waddy said he voted for Brexit - but now feels let down.

He said: “I wanted out - I shouldn’t have done but I thought it would be better for us.

“We have come unstuck and the Government has sold us down the river. They have promised us everything and given us nothing.

“When I first started the industry was booming, then it collapsed after the 50-mile limit was introduced and oil prices went up. I was a young lad of 16 or 17, I survived that and worked right from the bottom all the way up. But there’s no light at the end of the tunnel now.

“Somebody really needs to get out there now and fight for these guys.”