Fishing fury: EU ship ‘longer than a football pitch’ among those plundering UK waters | United Kingdom | New
Greenpeace super patrol trawler Willem van der Zwan
Using official figures released by the Marine Management Organization (MMO), the Pro-Brexit Facts4EU think tank report highlights the fact that 25 percent of the EU’s tonnage operating in seas off the British coast is represented by only 18 huge ships. Of these, the Polish-flagged Annelise Ilena is the largest, weighing 14,055 gross tons and measuring 472 feet – well over 100 more than the pitch at Wembley Stadium, and the length of 13 Routemaster buses put end exhausted.
Another, the Lithuanian-flagged Margiris belonging to the Netherlands, is only three feet shorter at 469 feet and weighs 9,499 tons.
In total, nearly 1,700 EU vessels have been granted licenses to enter UK waters (within 200 nautical miles) this year.
Facts4EU Chairman Leigh Evans told Express.co.uk: “Our latest report reveals that besides the UK following the rules of EU diktats in the trade and cooperation, it even authorized EU super trawlers which are so big that they don’t have approval in other parts of the world.
“When EU ships are longer than 13 London buses put end to end, it’s industrial scale fishing.”
Boris Johnson has yet to place restrictions on so-called supertrawlers
Top 10 EU Supertrawlers in UK Waters by Tonnage
Facts4EU’s research reveals:
- Total tonnage of the EU fishing fleet authorized for UK waters: 425,265 tonnes
- Total tonnage of the UK fishing fleet after decades of the EU’s Common Fisheries Policy: 203,703 tonnes
- The EU fleet by tonnage, authorized for UK waters, is twice that of the UK in UK waters
- 25 percent of EU tonnage is represented by one percent of EU vessels (18 vessels)
- 40 percent are represented by less than one percent of vessels (50 vessels)
- 50 percent are represented by less than one percent of vessels (100 vessels)
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Margiris photographed in the English Channel
The report includes a list of the 25 largest vessels operating in UK waters by tonnage, with the Annelies Ilena leading the way.
The fourth largest, the Maartje Theadora, a German-flagged vessel weighing 9,082 tonnes, was prosecuted by France in 2012 for violating EU law and fined over £ 0.5 million sterling after being arrested with £ 1million of illegally caught fish on board.
While there is no specific definition of the word supertrawler, it generally refers to vessels equipped with the means to process, refrigerate and freeze daily catches, allowing them to remain at sea for weeks at a time.
Their nets can measure up to 1,950 feet long by 650 feet wide (600m x 200m) and in terms of gross tonnage, many of them exceed that of a British Type 23 guided missile frigate.
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Carolien, a Dutch-flagged vessel weighing 7,052 gross tonnes
Supertrawler Maartje Theadora is followed by Greenpeace activists
Mr Evans said: “It is not so much about fishing as it is about ‘sucking up our marine environment’.
“It’s certainly not what ordinary people think of when they think of a fishing boat.
“And when the nets of some of these ships cover an area of over 450 tennis courts, people might really start to wonder what’s going on.”
He added: “On top of all this, the French are bitterly complaining and threatening the UK because 35 of their smaller boats have not been licensed.
Fishing: the super trawler Margiris crisscrosses the English Channel
“These small boats have failed – after nine months and two extensions – to provide the UK with proof that they have a history of fishing within our 12 mile limit. Those who provided evidence obtained licenses.
“We can only hope our report makes waves in Whitehall.”
The environmental pressure group Greenpeace has made its voice heard on the subject of super trawlers and calls for a total ban on their exploitation in specially designated marine protected areas (MPAs).
Speaking to the BBC’s Andrew Marr in January, the Prime Minister suggested that Brexit would allow the UK “to ban these huge vacuum trawlers that come in and suck deep into the sea”.
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However, over nine months later, no action has been taken.
Speaking to Sky News last month, Greenpeace activist Fiona Nicholls said: “Over the past few months, Greenpeace has patrolled the Channel in supposedly green protected areas as part of our Operation Ocean Witness campaign.
“We found out that it was basically a free industrial scheme for all these really big fishing boats, many of which are not from the UK.”
In a published statement relating specifically to the Margiris, the Pelagic Fishing Association (PFA) said:.
The EU countries most dependent on UK waters
“In addition, the Margiris catches this North Sea herring under the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) sustainability label, which is the most renowned and well-known sustainability label for the fishery.
“Margiris fishing for herring is done with the same type of gear, the same size of gear and the same acoustic fish finding equipment as any other pelagic trawler fishing for herring.
“So there is no difference between the way the Margiris fishes and other pelagic trawlers, including the more than 20 UK pelagic trawlers (mainly based in Scotland / Shetlands).”
Speaking last month, a UK government spokesperson said: “Protecting our vital fish stocks and those who depend on them is paramount, which is why all EU vessels licensed to fish in UK waters must comply with UK rules and regulations, including those on sustainability.
“We have heard the concerns about pressure from fishing in the Channel and we are keen to work with the industry to resolve the issues. We have already stopped pulse trawling by EU and English registered vessels in UK waters and now that we have left the EU the MMO is consulting on additional safeguards for our marine protected areas.
“Any decision regarding fisheries management in the future will be based on the best available evidence. “