The United Kingdom will need reciprocal help from the European Union and order to effectively patrol it’s fishing waters post-Brexit. 

That is the opinion of Barrie Deas, Chief Executive of the National Federation of Fishermen (NFFO) who was attending the EU Energy & Environment Sub-Committee today along with Elspeth Macdonald, CEO of the Scottish Fishermen’s Federation, Jeremy Perch, Chief Executive of the New Under Ten Fishermen’s Association (NUFTA) and Andrew Kuyk, Director General of the UK Seafood Alliance. 

During questioning Mr Deas stressed that the UK does not have enough patrol vessels in order to keep waters around the UK free from illegal fishing boats from third countries post-Brexit. The CEO was unsure that the UK could cope with the number of illegal vessels entering and to UK waters post brexit due to the limited numbers of patrol vessels available to the Marine Management Organisation (MMO). He said that the EU would need to impose the same penalties upon it’s fishing fishing vessels as the UK would be willing to impose on their own vessels in case of illegal fishing.

He said that one of the ways would be black-listing fishing vessels caught fishing illegally in UK or EU waters.

“Whether a vessel is fishing for to make a political point or for some commercial advantage, it needs to be very aware that it’s jeopardising its future access to fishing UK waters powerful tool.” said Mr Deas.

This sentiment was agreed upon by SFF, CEO, Elspeth Macdonald who said that the EU had been a strong advocate in the fight against illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing and she believed that the would continue with that cause after December 2020.

Jeremy Percy, the under 10 Fishermen’s Association Chief Executive  said that he could see issues of conflict arising in the future as what happened with the scallop boats on the south coast of England who were fishing scallops in French Waters.

He believed that would be inevitable that there could be clashes between European fishermen and UK fishermen and the event of lack of patrolling UK fishing waters.

“I speak to lots of fishermen everyday and there’s very strong feelings about this. Taking back control and becoming an independent coastal state is all very well but if the French and maybe others feel that they can ignore the principles of my colleagues mentioned earlier, then there is no guarantee how quickly things can degenerate into violence “ he told the sub-committee.

He believed it could lead to instances like occurred in the English Channel during the scallop season of 2018 and he asked that proper controls would be put in place in order for such classes not to happen.

Mr Percy said “Obviously, if there’s going to be any sort of quid pro quo, and I think is absolutely vital, that any foreign vessel in the European vessel coming into our waters should legally has to have the cameras, remote electronic monitoring sensors on their gear and vessel management monitoring services, so we know where they are what they doing the direction of going speed etc and of course what they’re doing.”

Barrie Deas, CEO of the NFFO recognised that there would be some EU access to UK fishing grounds but it would not be inside the 6 to 12 mile limit as the London agreement had been abolished as of midnight on the 31st of January 2020 when Brexit came into play. This will be a blow to many EU member states such as Belgium, the Netherlands and Ireland, who’s vessels have had access to these fishing grounds.

Author: Oliver McBride


UK will need reciprocal help to patrol waters post-Brexit

by editor time to read: 8 min