SOUTHEND fishermen could see a £30million boost after a shellfish discovery thanks to “post-Brexit powers”, the Prime Minister and MP Anna Firth have said.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak visited Old Leigh yesterday morning to speak with fishermen, business owners and residents about the “incredible discovery” of “prized” manila and razor clams in the Thames Estuary.

The Prime Minister was greeted by Southend West MP Anna Firth, who introduced him to fishermen Paul Gilson and workers from the family-run Osborne Bros fishing company on a walk around the town.

On Monday, Ms Firth said new “Brexit powers” mean fishermen can harvest the shellfish without EU regulatory control, providing a boost to their industry.

She said: “This is worth £30million to our fishermen.”

Under EU regulations, clams shorter than five inches - which would include razor and manila clams were not allowed to be harvested - but following Brexit and new Government regulations, fishermen will be allowed to harvest the clams.

Mr Sunak added: “Our fishing industry is able to fish more than it used to, so this is incredibly exciting.

“The industry was already benefitting before this incredible discovery, from tens of thousands more tonnage of catch every year.”

Mr Sunak met with Leigh fisherman and town councillor Mr Gilson, who is director of the National Federation of Fishermen’s Organisations, to discuss how the Government can support the industry.

Mr Gilson says the organisation is “genuinely over the moon” and he is hopeful the shellfish find will significantly benefit Southend’s economy.

He said: “We’re talking many millions of pounds. Leigh attracts people, they’re going to come to here to see the new fisheries.

Mr Gilson is confident tourists will flock to Leigh’s restaurants to enjoy the clams, as “they’re pretty good”.

He added: “They’re worth the effort. We’re getting enthusiasm back - it’s good news.

“Defra is now saying ‘how can we help? How can we make this work?’ We haven’t had that before.”

“We’ve definitely got more proactive people within the Marine Management Organisation and Defra who want to make things happen. It’s working. They want to work with us.

“It will improve our morale.

“All our other fisheries have been established for hundreds of years. We can actually look at this how can we take this forward and make this work long-term? We need to make it sustainable.”

When asked how the Government will support Leigh’s rejuvenating fishing industry, the Mr Sunak told the Echo: “There is an incredible opportunity.

“If you think about the scale of the discovery and what it will mean for the community and local economy, it’s really fantastic.

“Defra is now working quickly through all the various steps that need to be taken to make sure we can take advantage of this opportunity.

“Ms Firth is working very hard on that, so we capitalise on it. I am excited and we’ve got to figure out all the great new recipes we need to eat!”

Mr Sunak says the Government’s £100million seafood fishery fund will also support the industry.

He added: “It is funding hundreds of projects around the country.”