UK fishermen being bullied out of own waters by EU boats

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

UK fishermen are being “bullied” out of their own British waters by European boats, with the Government warned the fishing sector has been hit by a brutal “double whammy”. Boris Johnson, who pledged to “Get Brexit Done”, had promised to protect the industry before signing a trade deal with the European Union. But fishermen have been left fuming as the agreement states there would be a five-year transition period that would see EU boats continue to gain access to UK waters until 2026.

At the time, the former Prime Minister admitted some concessions had been made in talks with the EU, but insisted for the first time since 1973, the UK would have “full control” of its waters.

However June Mummery, the former MEP for East of England and founder of Renaissance of the East Anglian Fisheries, has thrown those comments to shreds.

She told “Boris Johnson said we would ‘take back control of our waters’. That was a bloody lie. Fishermen have been betrayed and stabbed in the back.

“This is a double whammy – fishermen feel stabbed in the back but coastal communities also feel stabbed in the back because they have waited over 40 years to take back that fish as resource.

“At the eleventh hour, Boris has given the EU our fishing waters. He cannot deny that or get out of tha. t

Ms Mummery added: “We’re supposed to be taking back control of 200nautical miles of waters. Foreign boats are only supposed to come up to the 12 mile exclusion zone of British coasts but they are coming all the way up to the six mile exclusion zones

“You still have 1,700 EU vessels in our waters and eight of those are super trawlers. They aren’t monitored so nobody is going onboard to check what they are catching.”

The former MEP claimed EU boats are “bullying UK fishermen out of their own waters”, and accused them of intimidation tactics when they fish close to the British coast.

She highlighted super trawlers – which are over 100 metres in length and can catch hundreds of tonnes of fish every day, using nets up to a mile long – as a huge barrier for UK fishermen.

Ms Mummery said: “These EU vessels crank up the engines when they come to our waters. All of them are unmonitored and if we don’t act now, all of these huge boats will continue to plunder our waters.

“Even if you knock all quotas on the head now though, the problem is there are no fish. Fishermen are wondering where it has all gone. It’s not there anymore because it’s not what super trawlers catch, it’s what they kill.”

The former MEP claimed UK fishermen now find themselves “skint and on the bones of their backsides” and warned the industry is “just about finished”.

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She challenged the Tories to act now before it’s too late, accusing them of “betraying coastal towns, villages and communities”.

Ms Mummery continued: “UK fishermen are skint and on the bones of their backsides. We had the Covid pandemic and the hospitality sector shut down. Who on earth would invest in fishing in this country?

“You have fishing towns like Grimsby, Hull, Lowestoft, Great Yarmouth and Hartlepool, but Boris has literally stolen all of their opportunities and aspirations

“The UK Government has betrayed coastal towns, villages and communities. You stabbed fishermen in the back and what the hell are you going to do about it?

“The industry is just about finished. There are mechanisms they can put in place, why aren’t they doing that?”

When the trade deal with the EU was signed at the end of 2020, Mr Johnson admitted some concessions were made to Brussels but insisted for the first time since 1973, the UK would have “full control” of its waters.

He said: “It would be fair to say that we wanted to make sure for instance that we got complete control of our fisheries from the get go and that’s just to say we had annual negotiations on fisheries within the shortest possible delay.

“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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