EU Supertrawlers Ravage British Waters Ahead of Brexit, Kill Dolphins, Porpoises, Seals

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A surge of industrial supertrawlers from the EU are devastating Britain’s territorial waters, including marine protected areas, as a ‘no-deal’ Brexit which would see the country reclaim its fisheries looms.

While Britain technically left the European Union at the beginning of 2020, it has for all practical purposes remained a member — minus its voting rights — during a year-long “transition” period in which a UK-EU trade agreement was supposed to be negotiated.

This means the country has remained subject to the bloc’s so-called Common Fisheries Policy (CFP), which treats national fisheries as a so-called “common resource”.

(The policy was introduced right before Britain joined the EEC, as the EU then was, in the 1970s, bringing the richest fishing stocks in Western Europe with it.)

The CFP has seen tens of thousands of jobs and over half the boats in the British fishing industry destroyed, as Brussels has allocated the lion’s share of Britain’s fish to the rest of the EU, but with a UK-EU deal looking increasingly remote — in large part because the EU is insisting any deal must include a significant amount of continued control over Britain’s fisheries — the ride may finally be coming to an end.

This has apparently prompted a last hurrah by the continent’s giant factory ships, with at least ten of them entering British waters to plunder them for all they are worth in the time remaining before the end of the transition.

“Between them, these supertrawlers have not only caught masses of their target fish species but tonnes of fish and marine life that they do not want, including marine mammals. These are usually ground down for animal feed or thrown back dead as bycatch,” said Thea Taylor, co-lead of the Brighton Dolphin Project.

“We see a surge in dead dolphins on Sussex beaches when supertrawlers are here or during the weeks after.

“Although the UK government already recognises cetacean species to be protected by law, bycatch caused by factory trawlers continues,” she lamented.

The French, who have pushed harder than anyone for control over Britain’s fisheries to be included in any Brexit trade deal, fear that the largely Dutch-owned supertrawlers will descend on their waters if Boris Johnson follows through on his promise to follow through on a no-deal break with the EU if a negotiated settlement cannot be agreed.

“If it was only French fishermen in French waters, then no-deal might be OK, but we have the Belgians, the Dutch to contend with,” fretted Olivier Le Prêtre, head of the Hauts-de-France fishing council, in comments to the Telegraph.

“If they all end up in French waters, there is a risk of overfishing and in a few months we’ll annihilate stocks.”

The Netherlands, he said, “is a nation that is exterminating fish. They have bought up the European fleet, they fish to excess. We all know full well that if we exterminate the fish they won’t come back ever again.”

The British government has put the Royal Navy on standy to move against any EU vessels which continue exploiting Britain’s waters after Brexit, and is preparing legislation giving it new powers to board such vessels and arrest their crew.

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