UK-flagged Spanish-owned fishing vessel accused of landing hake in Newlyn harbour unchecked by the MMO
A UK-flagged Spanish-owned fishing vessel has been accused of landing juvenile hake in Newlyn harbour, and all unchecked by the Marine Management Organisation.
A video has been posted on Twitter which shows, what looks like a Spanish fishing boat landing its catch directly into the back of a trailer with Spanish signage indicating it is destined for the Continent.
The video also shows that there are no officials from the Marine Management Organisation present at the offloading.
One local has expressed concern over the increasing number of UK-registered Spanish-owned fishing vessels that are fishing off the Western Approaches and speaking to The Fishing Daily, said that he has never seen as many of these vessels coming into Newlyn to unload their catches, even when the UK was part of the EU.
Newlyn, Cornwall in the south-westerly tip of the UK has become associated with quality caught fish using gillnets and locals claim that it is the most sustainable way to fish species such as hake. Local fishermen take pride in landing mature fish and the fishery is certified by the Marine Stewardship Council.
The landing of juvenile or undersized fish is something that locals believe will damage the certification and their reputation.
“The only the only small fish or the undersized fish that go up our pier are coming from the foreign boats. Our guys down here fish with the gillnets and they are only taking the big fish,” says our source.
“You know the sustainably sized gillnets let the let the juvenile fish through and the only small ones that we see are coming off these boats that are longliners, and longline hooks don’t discriminate.”
He continued, “I was down there earlier on this week, and I was looking at through the boxes there, I felt as though I was able to do, and the size of the hake is just ridiculous. They’re coming in and landing them directly onto the back of the lorry to be shipped to Spain and they’ve even got the labels on their Merluza which is the Spanish name for hake.”
What concerned our local resident was the fact that no authorities were on the pier to oversee the unloading of the catch.
He said, “They (the crew) were all scurrying about. No MMO bodies down there checking or anything.”
On the promise of Brexit, fishermen in the United Kingdom were promised that they would have exclusive access to their own waters if they voted to leave the EU, but what has transpired with the UK-EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement is that the status quo has remained in place for EU vessels, and instead, the UK fishing industry has been hung out to dry.
“It’s pathetic, but that’s the way it is, and it seems as though unless other things are sorted out, it’s going to be the same for the next four years,” says our source.
The Fishing Daily has contacted the Marine Management Organisation (MMO) regarding the video footage.
An MMO spokesperson said:
“The MMO’s enforcement activities are risk-based and intelligence-led, focusing primarily on where seasonal fishing activity is taking place and where intelligence suggests there is heightened risk of illegal fishing activities.
“We would encourage people who suspect illegal activity to report their concerns to us so we can undertake assurance checks and take action where there is sufficient evidence to justify it.”
by Oliver McBride