Admiral Lord West, one of Britain’s most senior naval veterans, warns Britain faces becoming a “laughing stock” after Brexit, with a depleted Royal Navy unable to protect its reclaimed fishing grounds from marauding European vessels.
Within the EU, the country’s fisheries are managed by Brussels, which doles out the lion’s share of stocks to foreign boats – a contentious issue which has seen tens of thousands of British jobs lost at sea and on shore, and the national fishing fleet reduced to less than half its former size.
While there is still some question over whether the Government will take back control of Britain’s entire 200-mile Exclusive Economic Zone after it leaves the European Union, ministers are posturing as though they intend to, potentially offering the industry a lifeline – but the chairman of the EU Fisheries Alliance (EUFA) insists foreign boats will carry on plundering Britain’s waters regardless.
“We know that the Royal Navy is not able to patrol or control all your waters.”
That's 12 miles of fishing waters… what about the other 188?? https://t.co/3Ct8LqiGXQ
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) July 2, 2017
Speaking exclusively to Breitbart London, Veterans for Britain co-chairman and former Royal Navy operational commander Rear-Admiral Roger Lane-Nott was characteristically blunt: “[Van Balsfoort] is right,” he said.
“I’m all in favour of reclaiming our fishing grounds – but with the Fishery Protection Squadron in the UK cut down to just three vessels, the Royal Navy doesn’t have the capacity to patrol hundreds of thousands of miles of waters.
“The Government has to get serious about Defence; make sure we’re completely out of the the EU’s various military integration schemes after Brexit, and redirect some of the money we currently send to Brussels towards rebuilding the fleet.”
@mrrogerln "A vote to remain is an implicit agreement for an EU Army, Navy and Air Force, as Mr Junker has said."
— Veterans for Britain (@VeteransBritain) June 11, 2016
Admiral Lord West of Spithead, as a former First Sea Lord and Chief of the Naval Staff, said he was “stunned” by the Government’s “complacency” on the issue.
“We will be made a laughing stock if we apply new rules and cannot enforce them,” he told colleagues in the House of Lords, where he sits as a Labour peer.
“We will need to establish a centralised command and control system for the assets we have – far too few of them – to focus on things like someone fishing illegally in our zone.”
The EU decimated fishing communities- now we hope for a new Brexit dawn.No politician can betray & surrender Britain's fishing a 2nd time. pic.twitter.com/ZmkUM7wcwp
— Fishing for Leave (@fishingforleave) June 6, 2017
Alan Hastings, a founder-member of the Fishing for Leave group which organised the seaborne protest now remembered as ‘The Battle of the Thames‘ during the EU referendum, also spoke to Breitbart London.
He pointed out that “the additional £6.3 billion taking back control of our fisheries would bring to the British economy could help provide a welcome boost to the Royal Navy, allowing it to protect our seas from a bullying EU.”
Hastings added: “As a member of the North-East Atlantic Fisheries Commission (NEAFC) the EU is required to monitor all of its fishing vessels, so either they climb off their high horse and readjust their fleet to reflect the fact that they will not be able to plunder 60 per cent of our fish anymore, or they become pirates.”