UK’s plans to reclaim its fishing zones have dismayed the port of Ostend, with calls to add the issue to the Brexit talks

Over the last year the decisions of the British public and, subsequently, the UK government have been observed with growing dismay by the people of Ostend. A slowdown in the number of Britons seeking a cheap bucket-and-spade holiday on the wide, soft-sanded beaches of the blowy North Sea resort ushered into administration the operator of the once popular Ramsgate to Ostend ferry four years ago, closing down the only direct link from the UK to the Flemish port. The Brexit vote last June, and the subsequent crash in the value of the pound, made it that bit more expensive for Brits who still wanted a break in Belgium.

Staff at British Brands, a seafront souvenir shop that once did a brisk trade in flogging British-made goods to homesick tourists, admitted business had been slow recently. Ostend is increasingly becoming a resort for retired Belgians, drinking glasses of beer in the mid-morning sun. Now it is the suggestion that the British want to “take back” their fish that has caused Ostend’s fishermen, and all those who depend on the EU’s smallest fishing fleet, fresh concern.

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