Meet the last of Yorkshire's distant water fishermen stuck in port and with no idea when they can next put to sea

They are the last members of what was once a mighty fleet. Yorkshire's distant water fishermen now just number a few dozen, but currently they are stuck in port, with no idea of when they will next head out.

Deckhand Ricky Campbell on board the Kirkella Picture: Jonathan Gawthorpe

Normally the trawler, which catches around eight per cent of all the fish sold in the UK’s fish and chip shops, would be steaming around 1000 miles to her fishing grounds off Norway and the Barents Sea.

There they target haddock and cod - the cod live near the seabed in depths of up to 600 metres off the Continental shelf.

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Once caught, they can be processed, turned into fillets and be in the freezers within half an hour of being landed.

First mate Charlie Waddy on the bridge of the Kirkella Picture: Jonathan Gawthorpe

But at the moment the £52 million vessel, and its 100-strong crew, around half of which is from Hull and Grimsby, is going nowhere, due to arrangements with Norway lapsing post-Brexit.

At Hull's King George docks the cheerful yellow hull of the Kirkella stands out amid the gloom of a January day.

On board, the massive bridge acts as a state-of-the-art mission control, a solitary alarm bleeping amid an array of computer screens and one huge chart plotter showing her exact whereabouts - tied up a short distance from the River Humber.

"When you are a fisherman you have two families - one at home and one at sea. We are all brothers when we're out there," said Ricky Campbell, a third generation fisherman from Hessle near Hull.

Chief executive of UK Fisheries Jane Sandell Picture: Jonathan Gawthorpe

The 33-year-old first went to sea at 21 and has never looked back. "I am proud of what I do and I am proud to be on this ship," he said. "We just need to be able to get out fishing as soon as possible and the lads can then relax a bit."

The fishermen take a share of the profits the boat makes and only get paid after a fishing trip.

"It is quite frightening because we have a mortgage and a car - we have a life. It is worrying where the next payments are coming from," adds Ricky.

Kirkella's future, the amount of quota she will be allowed to catch, now depends on the outcome of talks, which only began this week between the EU, Norway and the UK.

On the factory floor aboard the Kirkella Picture: Jonathan Gawthorpe

These will then be followed by bilateral discussions between the UK and the EU and the UK and Norway.

One of Hull's longest serving fishermen, first mate Charlie Waddy, 62, who has been 46 years at sea, says he feels lucky to have stayed in the job he loves.

His father Arthur was lost at sea in 1961, when the Arctic Viking sank off Flamborough Head, leaving his mother to bring up seven children. "I lived on Hessle Road and everybody had something to do with fishing or the docks.

"My uncles were bobbers, my brother went to sea, the other brother was a fish filleter.

"I find it terrible that this (Kirkella) is the last one - we should have a full fleet."

The comforts aboard Kirkella - TV, Internet, gym, cinema - were unthinkable when he started out on sidewinders, where up to ten men could sleep to a cabin and sugar, milk and tea had to be bought from a bond locker. "I was in one ship and you went in the engine room, you had a hand pump to pump water into the bath.

"If you didn't get back quickly someone would have jumped into it," he says. "We live like kings now compared to what we did."

The modern ships are "thousands of times" safer too. When he started trawlers were still getting lost at sea.

"I went on my first pleasure trip (at the age of 10) two years after the Triple Trawler Tragedy (three ships from Hull which were lost in the space of a few weeks in 1968) - the Gaul (supertrawler lost with 36 hands off Norway) went in 1974."

He blames "incompetent Government" for the current situation, adding: "They said they were going to back us and they haven't."

Chief executive of UK Fisheries - a British company, which is a joint venture between an Icelandic and Dutch firm - Jane Sandell says the worst case scenario is that there is no deal. Her best guess is that there will be one by the end of March.

The industry had alerted the government to the issue for two years, but talks only started on Tuesday.

The following day the government issued a licence to fish off Svalbard for a small fraction of their annual quota - but it is far short of what they need.

Mrs Sandell, who is married to Scarborough skipper Danny Normandale, says it is "incredibly frustrating and upsetting" that she can't give the crew an idea of when they will start back at sea.

She said: "I can totally understand that the divorce had to take priority on this and I can also understand that Norway would be reticent to get involved before they knew what the divorce settlement was, but it would seem that a little more preparation could have been put into place. It's now a case of getting on with it."

She says it in both sides' interests to come to a deal, as Norway wants access to UK waters for herring and mackerel, and also for ling for its longline fleet.

Meanwhile one faction of Scottish fishermen want access to Norwegian waters, while another doesn't "and we're on the end of it as the old enemy", she adds.

She said: "Ultimately you have to look at the good that is bought into the UK. We are putting everything into the UK economy - many of the naysayers aren't.

"The majority of pelagic fish are landed outside the UK, which means the only benefit goes into the pocket of the owner. We use cold stores here and sell into the UK, ultimately fish and chip shops are benefitting from it.

"I am a pragmatist. There are many parts of the UK fishing industry which should benefit from Brexit and all I want is that we are no further behind than we were when we under the EU, because I think that would be a real issue as soon as we are an independent coastal state."

Deputy Hull Council leader Daren Hale said yesterday: "The Government made fishing front and centre of their (Brexit) campaign.

"It is now time for them to deliver the catch."

However the loss of supply from Kirkella is unlikely to affect people who love a fish and chip supper.

Martyn Boyers, chief executive of Grimsby Fish Market, said there isn't a "remote chance" of a shortage, with fish available through multiple sources, including direct from Norway, Iceland and the Faroes.

The Humber has the country's largest concentration of fish processors. Mr Boyers said: "There's no panic because fish is available through other sources, particularly through fish merchants and processors round this region because they are dealing in fresh fish."

Defra said the UK had secured Fisheries Framework Agreements with Norway and the Faroe Islands which provide the basis for detailed negotiations about quotas. The Government had also signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Greenland to boost co-operation on fisheries matters.

A UK Government spokesman said: “As an independent coastal state the UK has put in place new arrangements to further influence the management of near and distant fish stocks, to best serve the interests of the British fishing industry."

Negotiations would be concluded "as soon as possible".