Britain will leave the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) – which allows EU fishermen access to British waters – and will become an independent coastal state as soon as November 1, if a deal is not agreed before then. Under the terms of Theresa May’s withdrawal agreement, the UK would have continued to allow EU boats access during a 21-month transition period. However, the deal was voted down three times in Parliament and her successor, Boris Johnson, has promised Britain will leave the bloc by October 31, “no ifs no buts”.
Yesterday, the Government published a 159-page No Deal Readiness report, prepared by Michael Gove, which sets out tariffs and extra administration costs for importing and exporting goods, the impact on travelling to the EU on holiday and changes to rules like data protection.
In the proposals, Downing Street announced that the new Government has strengthened and greatly increased its ability to control and enforce UK waters.
The report reads: “Specifically compared to 2018/2019 in England, the Government has:
“Increased the amount of surface surveillance (i.e. ships at sea) seven fold.
“Doubled the amount of aerial surveillance of our seas.
“Doubled the number of warranted marine enforcement officers available for fisheries protection.”
It appears to be a significant development after a Government email in August revealed the UK may struggle to patrol its own fishing waters after a no deal Brexit.
A memo written by Defra officials, which was accidentally sent to the BBC, said there was “a lot of uncertainty” over whether Britain has the resources to police its seas.
The document raised concerns that only 12 boats were available “to monitor a space three times the size of the surface area of the UK”.
The proposals to patrol territorial waters for foreign fishing vessels will likely be met with enthusiasm in Britain.
French fishermen, who heavily rely on British waters for their catch, have already threatened on more to one occasion to disrupt UK exports in the Channel if they are denied access after a no deal Brexit.
Soon after Mr Johnson moved into Downing Street, France’s Agriculture Minister Didier Guillaume warned the Prime Minister not to prevent French fishermen from working in British waters.
He said: “There is no circumstance in which once could prevent, in which Boris Johnson could prevent, French fishermen from fishing in British waters.”
According to the readiness report, “if EU vessels fish in UK waters after October 31, without this having been agreed between the EU and UK Government, they will be doing so illegally”.
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The report adds: “This means that the vessel in question could be subjected to substantial penalties and could ultimately be listed under illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing regulations.”
Last year, French and British fishermen clashed in the English Channel in a battle over scallops.
About 40 French boats tried to stop five larger British boats from fishing 12 nautical miles (22km) off the Normandy coast, in the Bay of Seine.
Fishing boats collided and stones were thrown, but no one was injured.
UK boats are entitled to fish in the scallop-rich area, but their presence has angered the French, who accuse the British of depleting shellfish stocks.
UK fishermen demanded Government protection, while the French bewailed the loss of a “primary resource”.
BORIS JOHNSON’S Government has released details about the steps it will take to ensure UK waters will be policed and controlled if the country leaves the EU on October 31 without a deal, as a new 155-page report outlines what could be seen as a Channel police force protecting British fisheries.
Britain will leave the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) – which allows EU fishermen access to British waters – and will become an independent coastal state as soon as November 1, if a deal is not agreed before then. Under the terms of Theresa May’s withdrawal agreement, the UK would have continued to allow EU boats access during a 21-month transition period.