SOUTH Dorset MP Richard Drax has called for clarity from Prime Minister Boris Johnson on the UK's post-Brexit fisheries position.

Mr Drax, who has many constituents dependent on the fishing industry, believes "reclaiming control of our waters" is of "paramount importance to the country."

And with the Withdrawal Agreement Bill (WAB) proceeding through its final stages this week, Mr Drax points out that Owen Patterson, former fisheries minister, asked the Prime Minister to confirm Britain’s fisheries would be brought back under the UK’s control during an earlier debate on the bill’s passage in December.

“This is a matter of paramount importance to the UK, and to fishermen in my own constituency, said Mr Drax. “We have bartered away our fishing for a paltry return for far too long.

"Now that we are finally leaving the EU, we must reclaim control of our waters and decide what we need before considering any other claims.”

Referring to the December debate, Mr Drax said: "Mr Patterson asked the Prime Minister – and I quote – to 'guarantee that we will not make the mistake of the 1970s and allow the allocation of fishing resources to be a bargaining chip in the treaty negotiations. Will he guarantee that we will become a normal independent maritime nation and conduct negotiations on an annual basis for reciprocal deals to mutual advantage?'”

"The Prime Minister replied that we need to 'restore to this country the advantages of its spectacular marine wealth, and that is exactly what we will do, once we become an independent coastal state.'"

The European Union's Common Fisheries Policy sets out quotas for which member states are allowed to catch each type of fish.

It has recently been agreed that the number of cod which can be legally caught by UK's fisherman will have to be halved next year, a decision previously agreed by representatives of Scottish trawlermen in an effort to preserve stocks.

Speaking after the latest cod quota, UK fisheries minister George Eustice said: "This year there has been some very challenging science for cod stocks in many parts of the North East Atlantic and we have responded to conserve stocks.

"I know that some of the quota reductions will be very difficult for some sectors of the industry and there has been considerable debate this year about the importance of bycatch allowances to support the delivery of the discard ban.

"However, we also know that to protect the profitability of fisheries in the future, we must fish sustainably today."

Meanwhile, on the UK's eventual post-Brexit fisheries position, Mr Drax said: “Mr Patterson and the Prime Minister have my total support.

"The new Government is being watched closely to ensure it keeps its word.

"Our fishermen have been patient for too long. Now is the time to keep our promises."