UK fishermen blast EU trawlers for bullying our boats out of waters

Brexit: Fishing industry was ‘lied’ to claims Luke Pollard

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UK fishermen have launched a scathing attack on massive European trawlers for “bullying our trawlers off traditional fishing grounds” while raging at an “exclusive red line” that has been broken. Former Prime Minister Boris Johnson had promised UK fishermen they would be fully protected in the event of any post-Brexit trade deal with the European Union, which was signed on December 30, 2020. The trade deal stated there would be a five-year transition period during which little would change that would see EU boats continue to gain access to UK waters until 2026.

Alistair Carmichael, Vice Chair of the House of Commons All-Party Parliamentary Group on Fisheries, has claimed UK fishermen are being bullied out of traditional catch areas by massive EU trawlers.

The Liberal Democrat MP for Orkney and Shetland told “There are European trawlers that fish using gillnets to the west of Shetland

“These gillnets are sometimes kilometres long and left to sit in the water It is the most unsustainable fishing practice imaginable.

“They are sitting in the water, so it excludes local fishermen from getting access to grounds that they have fished in for generations.

“If they try and fish in those waters where the gillnets are, the gillnet trawlers are really aggressive.

“EU trawlers bullying our fishing trawlers off traditional fishing grounds is the kind of thing we were promised would not happen after Brexit, but still it continues.”

Barrie Deas, Chief Executive of National Federation of Fishermen’s Organisations, the main British trade organisation representing British fishermen in relation to European fishing regulations, is also furious EU vessels can still fish so close to UK coasts.

He told “We were promised an exclusive 12 mile limit in the Trade and Cooperation Agreement that was an exclusive UK red line but European vessels continue to be allowed to fish between the 6-12 mile limits.

“You might have a small boat that can’t get to sea because of bad weather, but they look out at the six mile line, and there are EU vessels continuously operating. It’s a source of frustration for them

“Our exclusive zone is normal for coastal states and the minimum to be expected, and we didn’t even achieve it. That’s the one point that grates the most.”

However, Mr Deas insisted the trade deal agreed by Mr Johnson with the EU has not totally been to the disadvantage of UK fishermen, explaining there are areas “where we are now better off” outside the bloc.

He continued: “Where I think where we are now better off outside the EU and Common Fisheries Policy is it allows us, over time, to move away from EU-retained law. Most fisheries laws were just transferred across.

“We have the Fisheries Act and then the Joint Fisheries Statement which is about the devolved administrations all working together on a common approach.

“We also have Fisheries Management Plans that will allow us over time to develop fisheries management more tailored to our particular fisheries.

“The frontrunner Fisheries Management Plans for species like scallop and bass are underway now, and there is an awful lot of work going on there.

“Fish prices have been pretty good, which suggest adjustments have been made, and costs absorbed or passed on.

“Trade is flourishing and that’s what I expect because there are businesses on both sides of the Channel that end that trade to work if a profit is to be made out of it. We have the resources while they have the market.”

Shortly after the trade deal with the EU was signed, then-Prime Minister Mr Johnson admitted concessions were made to Brussels but insisted the agreement was a success.

He said: “The EU began with I think wanting a transition period of 14 years, we wanted three years, we’ve ended up at five years.

“That was a reasonable transition period and I can assure great fish fanatics in this country that we will as a result of this deal be able to catch and eat quite prodigious quantities of extra fish.

“For the first time since 1973 we will be an independent coastal state with full control of our waters with the UK’s share of fish in our waters rising substantially from roughly half today to closer to two thirds in five-and-a-half years’ time.

“After that, there is no theoretical limits beyond those placed by science or conservation on the quantity of our own fish that we can fish in our waters.”

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