THE Brexit transition period could leave the UK powerless to refuse entry to 10 “super trawlers” making their way to British waters to fish, Brexiteer MEP June Mummery warned.
The Brexit transition period will see the UK effectively leaving the European Union but still abiding by EU regulation until December 2020 as the British Government negotiates a new trade deal with the bloc. A potential consequence of the temporary phase, during which the UK will have no representative in EU institutions, would see the country’s fishermen unable to oppose 10 extra “super trawlers” planning to head to the UK. Brexit Party MEP June Mummery warned the enormous fishing vessels would “plunder” British waters and potentially cause irreparable damage to the catch available.
Speaking to Express.co.uk, the fish market auctioneer turned politician said: “My biggest concern is we’re not going to have a voice over in Brussels and the bits of fish they might catch is through electric pulse fishing and super-trawlers.
“Apparently, there’s another 10 on their way – these super trawlers, one net is four-times bigger than a football pitch.
“They’re scooping up dolphins, tuna, and as by-catch, they are catching sea bass. We’re not even allowed to catch sea bass in this country.”
The arrival of one of the planet’s larges trawlers, the Lithuanian-flagged Dutch-owned Margiris, into British waters in October sparked huge controversy within fishing communities decrying the unfair competition smaller vessels faced compared to the industrial trawler. The also warned about the potential risk to endangered species.
Ms Mummery also warned of super trawlers “plundering” waters rather than fishing and putting species such as the endangered bluefin tuna and over-fished sea bass under threat.
She continued: “They don’t catch fish, they plunder fish and they go right on top of the sea bass hatchery and, as I say to people, it’s not what they catch, it’s what they kill.
“That’s what I’ve been trying to the EU while I’m here, for their own sake, really. They’re not just hurting our oceans but they’re hurting the sea in different places.”
The Brexit Party MEP added: “Boris has been a bit naive to allow the EU to have a full role but I suppose he had to start somewhere.”
Ms Mummery however remained adamant Brexit would offer UK coastal community an “immediate” boost to local industries thanks to a key law regulating foreign access to British waters.
The MEP suggested the UK Government could allow a smaller number of EU boats to fish off the British coast but have them agree to have their catch processed in the UK.
She said: “The first thing I would do, if I were at the negotiating table, is probably allow some EU vessels to fish, sustainably, but they have to land their catch in the UK.
“We’ve still got the processing plants. I’ve been all around the country and the coastal communities have been starved.”
She continued: “They are starved, they are deprived and they need regenerating – fishing is a golden opportunity to get people back to work. The most deprived area, I probably would say, is Fleetwood.
“That really got me but one thing Fleetwood has is a lot of processing. The EU are fishing in our waters and taking our fish from our waters and we are buying it back.
“We would allow the EU, saying, ‘you can come in our waters, sustainably, but you have to land your catch here’. That catch would then go in the processing side of things – it would kickstart the processing immediately, and I mean immediately.”
Prime Minister Boris Johnson repeatedly said Brexit would give British fishermen the chance to gain back full control of their waters.
But according to sources in Brussels, one of the first requests the EU will make is demand the UK allows access to its fishing waters to EU trawlermen as part of any future trade deal.