The presence of Dutch “supertrawlers” plundering British waters at the height of the coronavirus pandemic emphasises why the UK Government must not give an inch when it comes to defending fishing rights after Brexit, campaigners have said.
An analysis by environmental campaigners Greenpeace today indicated the vessels, the Willem van der Zwan, Afrika and Frank Bonefaas, have been fishing off the west coast of Scotland for weeks, while UK ships were unable to sail as a result of the ongoing coronavirus lockdown. It is a situation pro-Brexit group Fishing for Leave has been monitoring closely. A spokesman told Express.co.uk: “The current crisis hasn’t abated the largest super trawlers in the EU fleet plundering British waters.
“As a large chunk of the British fleet lies idle due to the shut down these primarily Dutch-owned freezer vessels still put to sea to fill their owner’s cold stores.
“COVID-19 or not this is continual exploitation of what should be exclusively British waters and quotas under international law must be stopped on the back of Brexit.”
The spokesman welcomed Michael Gove’s recent criticism of EU “hypocrisy” in respect the bloc’s insistence on its right to fish British waters after the UK quits the EU while continuing to demand any future deal on fishing should be based on the “lopsided status quo” whereby Britain provides 50 percent of the waters and 60 percent of the catches, but receives just 25 percent of the quotas.
The spokesman stressed: “The government must not yield on fishing – we worry some compromise cave-in may yet still happen.”
As such, there should be no extension of the transition period beyond December 31, the spokesman said.
He explained: “Doing so would subject us to more years of CFP ineptitude and robbery.
“Both for fishing and other industries, it would leave the EU time to enforce detrimental legislation.
“Additionally Britain would still be exposed to the obligation to bail out the eurozone to the tune of £100bns – something that looks increasingly likely.”
He added: “The Government must ensure Britain is not enmeshed in the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) in all but name.
“We must have, and be able to exercise, exclusive sovereignty over all our water and resources within our Exclusive Economic Zone out to 200 nautical miles or the midline.”
Additionally, the Government needed to make it clear to Brussels the UK would repatriate its rightful share of quotas based on the international principle of Zonal Attachment – whereby a nation has quota shares based on the predominance of species in its waters.
The spokesman said: “The EU must cut its cloth to reflect the loss of UK waters from the common pot so as to comply with UNCLOS obligation for nations to fish their available waters sustainably.
“Clearly the EU cannot comply with this if they try to continue catching 90 percent of channel whiting, cod and haddocks with only half the waters.
“Any deal on access or quota swaps must be predicated on the EU recognising this new zonal attachment normality as it does with Norway.
“Fishing must be negotiated on a strictly annual basis which is international normality between neighbours.
“We cannot be signed into some compromise bodge job that’s to run for years to placate the EU.”
He concluded: “Fishing is an easy multi-billion pound win for Britain and its coastal communities.
“It will give us the freedom and right to end this exploitation of our waters by EU supertrawlers.”