THE dangers of our dependence on Russia have been laid bare. Our over-reliance on this dictatorship to provide us with cheap gas from the Urals is the principal driver of our spiralling energy costs and Russia’s desperate attempt to break European unity over Ukraine through the weaponisation of its natural resources has meant that all of us are feeling the pinch.

The rapid rise in costs has meant that a key British institution is under immense threat. Since Malin’s chippy opened in 1860 in London, fish and chips have become a hallmark of our lunchtimes, teatimes and any British seaside break.

Nowadays, despite being a proud maritime nation, our lack of domestic processing capacity has resulted in 90 per cent of our fish being imported from the likes of China, Russia, Iceland and Norway. Our dwindling cod quotas in foreign waters have left us entirely dependent on imported cod – the preferred catch for chip shop connoisseurs up and down the country.

As a nation, we consume 167m portions of fish and chips every year and the vast majority (80 per cent) of us will visit a fish and chip shop at least once a year. The traditional chippy even outnumbers McDonalds outlets nine to one. It’s not contentious to say that we are a nation of chippy lovers.

Despite our national dependency on hearty portions of cod and chips, the industry is in dire straits. Around a third of chippies are now under threat of closing entirely. It’s no surprise when the prices of every ingredient – from a bag of chips to vegetable oil right down to the paper used to wrap the food – have grown exponentially.

However, what has hit your local chippy most is the drastic increase in the price of cod. The 35 per cent tariff imposed on all Russian whitefish – and 40 per cent of fish used in chippies comes from Russian ships – means that the sanctions have inadvertently decimated the business models of thousands of fish and chip shops.

As a result, chip shops are being forced to reduce their opening hours and pass the rising costs onto consumers just to remain viable. Accordingly, consumer prices have risen by record amounts.

But chip shop owners can only do this for so long.

As a nation of fish and chip enthusiasts, we must support our local shops. It really is a case of ‘use them or lose them’. There’s plenty we can do from a consumer level; we can choose to buy British-caught haddock or hake instead of imported cod from our local chip shop and we can continue our patronage where we can despite the higher prices.

While the recently announced £5m investment in the Grimsby seafood sector to improve our fish processing facilities is extremely welcome, ministers need to be lobbying not only for increased fishing quotas in foreign waters, but also to continue investing in the UK’s processing capacity. As a sea-faring nation, it is only natural that we look to revive our fishing industry, reduce costs for shops and create more jobs in left-behind coastal communities like Grimsby which has a rich and proud history of fishing.

As Brits, it is our patriotic duty to ensure that the Great British chippy remains a staple of our dining tables. While this may mean some short-term sacrifices, the long-term benefits of reviving a once thriving industry are there for all to see.

  • Matt Vickers is the Conservative MP for Stockton South