Report: Britain ‘Cannot’ Stop EU Supertrawlers Ravaging British Waters

Britain's Prime Minister and Conservative leader Boris Johnson poses holding a fish with Conservative candidate for Great Grimsby Lia Nici (L) during a general election campagin visit to Grimsby Fish Market in Grimsby, northeast England, on December 9, 2019. - Britain will go to the polls on December 12, 2019 …

EU supertrawlers are continuing to operate in British waters post-Brexit, despite Boris Johnson indicating that they would be banned, with a report suggesting the “cannot” be removed.

The gigantic factory ships, which descended on Britain’s fisheries in large numbers before the end of the 2020 “transition” period, possibly in anticipation of Britain taking back full control of its territorial waters in the event of a no-deal break between the British and the European Union, were described by Johnson as  “huge hoover trawlers that come in and hoover up everything on the bottom of the sea” in a January interview.

But now government sources have told the Telegraph that they cannot “exclude these boats altogether”, suggesting that the terms of Johnson’s deal may be tying their hands, just as EU rules did before.

The deal sees EU ships continuing to take massive quotas of British fish, with only a meagre increase in Britain’s own quota share phased in over five-and-a-half years and no guarantee full control will be returned at the end of this period.

Fishermen have described the deal’s terms on fishing as a clear “defeat” for Britain and expressed anger at claims the deal was in any respect a good outcome for their industry.

“I welcome the ban on electric pulse fishing but I think this is a great opportunity to ban supertrawlers which are incredibly damaging and it would be popular with British fishermen, the public at large and its something we need to do to protect our coastal waters,” said Henry Smith, who as a Conservative party MP for Crawley will shortly be putting forward a parliamentary question on the factory ships’ continued presence in British waters, in comments to the Telegraph.

“I pay tribute to the Government for their work so far but we should back it up with a ban on supertrawlers. A lot has been made in the Brexit debate about following the Australian example — and this is a great example of how we should do that,” he added, referring to the fact that Australia has previously banned an EU ship currently operating in British waters.

“Failing to deliver a supertrawler ban in the UK’s protected areas would be a devastating blow to our coastal communities and to our oceans,” said Chris Thorne, for the British branch of the Greenpeace organisation.

“For years now, this government has highlighted the opportunity of Brexit to deliver on its promise to be a world leader in marine protection. Brexit has now happened, but still destructive supertrawlers are allowed to plunder our supposedly protected areas with impunity,” he complained.

“This is a far cry from this government’s promise to ‘take back control of our seas’.”

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