The United Kingdom looks set to beef-up their Fisheries Protection Fleet by up to 24 vessels according to reports in national papers.

It is believed the British Government is set to rack-up fisheries patrol as the Transition Period expires on 31 January 2020.

Since the 1st February, the UK is no longer a member of the European Union (EU), but bound by the withdrawal agreement, it remains bound to the rules of the Common Fisheries Policy.

At the end of the Transition Period, the UK will have full control over their fishing inside their 200 mile zone. The EU are looking to use Trade and access to financial markets with its Member States as bargaining chips to keep access to the lucrative fishing grounds around Britain. The Netherlands and Belgium, who have particularly large fishing fleets and short coastlines, are pushing to have continued access as they claim “traditional fishing rights”.

In an interview with ITV, Diek Parlevliet, chairman of the Dutch Fish Marketing Board told ITV News Correspondent, Rupert Evelyn “We have fished there [UK waters] for the last 400 years and we want to continue doing so for the next 400 years. We don’t want give-up one kilo.”

English fishermen along the East and South East coasts have welcomed Brexit as it would bring an end to what some have called “destructive fishing activity” by neighbouring coastal countries.

For Dutch beam trawlers hunting sole, who can spend up to 80% of their time in UK waters, it would be a major blow to lose access to these grounds.

Another area of contention is the English Channel, where in the past UK and French fishermen have clashed over scallop fisheries there.

The Mail reports: “Growing tension over future fishing access is likely to spark fears of a repeat of the so-called ‘scallop wars’ in 2018 which saw French and British boats angrily clash over access to shellfish off the coast of Normandy.”

All this has raised concerns that a ‘Cod War’ style battle is in the offing if there is no agreement reached between the EU and the UK over access to British waters.

The Times has reported that “Ministers are getting ready to triple the number of boats in Britain’s fisheries protection squadron to police territorial waters in the event of a no-trade-deal Brexit”.

It is believed that the UK Government has given the go-ahead to hire two more maritime protection ships and two aerial surveillance aircraft to be operational by the end of the year.

With another 22 ships earmarked in case of a no-deal Brexit in December, the UK government is showing that it is going to bring about a major shift in the power base between themselves and the EU.

Sources: Various

UK set to beef-up Fisheries Protection Fleet

by editor time to read: 7 min