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EU illegal fishing in UK waters Buggered

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It’s the Express this morning that carries the best story. You’ll remember how we’re always being told that the EU is a ‘rules based organisation’? Indeed the EU has been as tedious as a pub bore on the subject, whilst privately breaking all its own rules when the interests of the, erm, EU are at stake. This is going to work against the EU’s fishing nations in a big way, Bertie Armstrong, Scottish Fishing Federation boss, told the paper.

French agriculture minister Didier Guillaume said earlier this month that “There is no scenario in which French fishermen should be prevented, could be prevented, would be prevented by Boris Johnson, from fishing in British waters. There is no reason for it. So I will keep telling Britain that our fishermen must be allowed to keep fishing in its waters”. Brave words, young Kermit – but just bluster.

As the Express reports

Bertie Armstrong, the CEO of the Scottish Fisherman’s Federation, claimed the European Union would become the “laughing stock of the world” if they did not respect British waters in the event of a no deal Brexit. “The European Union has led the world in the fight against what is referred to as IUU – illegal, unregulated, unreported fishing, off the coast of Africa and elsewhere in the world. If fishing nations in northern Europe were suddenly to engage in fishing which is not approved by the new owners of the waters, then the European Union would be the laughing stock of the world. It would be unacceptable.”

This doesn’t mean of course that individual French vessels will not seek to break the law – either straying a mile or so inside the marine boundary in acts of calculated defiance, or more seriously by turning off their AIS transmitters. All vessels over a certain size must continuously transmit vessel information under international law – this is the AIS plot of Peterhead harbour this morning, crammed with trawlers. Individual ship details can be brought up to give detailed vessel, course, speed and track information.

 So how can we track them if they switch their AIS off? Well, we’ve just bought 26 new Protector drones, licenced to fly in European airspace and piloted from RAF Waddington. These powerful albatrosses can glide over our fishing grounds, fitted with radar and sensors that can detect and match physical signatures with AIS transmissions, and any vessels with AIS turned off can be closely filmed and photographed and their position legally recorded. As the Express points out, this is exactly the sort of technology that the EU has been championing for African fishing grounds.

One of the RAF’s 26 new Predators

Even if EU27 nations make difficulties after illegal fishing has been established in handing over skippers for trial or vessels for seizure, the trawlers will remain liable for immediate seizure by the Navy if ever they enter British waters again – meaning illegal fishing will be a one-time risk for many.

All in all, the message is Don’t Panic – They’re Buggered. 


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