An expert has warned that as Brexit talks are still in deadlock with no-deal scenario looking more likely, EU nations could end up in a “naval battle” over fisheries.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson is refusing to budge on EU demands for access to British waters, and French fishermen have fired the warning shot as they will be forced to prepare to fish elsewhere.
French fishermen have consistently warned there will be “naval battles” between French, Belgian and Dutch at sea.
Stephane Pinto, fisherman and vice-president of the fisheries committee warned, “If tomorrow there is no deal Brexit, meaning a hard Brexit, all the flotillas of Europe, the Belgians, the Dutch, and the French will all be in the same fishing zone.
“And in terms of cohabitation that would be difficult. I think there would be a naval battle.”
George Eustice the government’s fishing minister warned the European Union, that the Royal Navy will be sent out to protect UK waters from EU fishing trawlers in March.
Last September the government’s Yellowhammer report warned there could be clashes in the English Channel with “illegal” fishing as British waters will be closed to the EU.
The document warned, “Up to 282 EU and European Economic Area nations’ fishing vessels could enter illegally or are already fishing in UK waters: up to 129 vessels in English waters, 100 in Scottish waters, 40 in Welsh waters and 13 in Northern Irish waters on day one.
“This is likely to cause anger and frustration in the UK catching sector, which could lead to clashes between fishing vessels and an increase in non-compliance in the domestic fleet.
“Competing demands on UK government and maritime departmental agencies and their assets could put enforcement and response capabilities at risk, especially in the event of illegal fishing, border violations (smuggling and illegal migration) and any disorder or criminality arising as a result, eg violent disputes or blockloading of ports.”
French President Emmanuel Macron warned earlier this year, that if no deal is triggered this will trigger civil unrest across France.
The National Federation of Fishermen’s Organisation (NFFO) chief, Barrie Deas said, “Given there is a line down the middle of the Channel, you could expect zonal attachment to be something a little bit more equal.
“If there is any change to those quota shares or any other aspect that affects French fishermen, as day follows night there will be blockades – they’ve done it for much less in the past.”
However, the Scottish Fishermen’s Federation, Elspeth MacDonald, who it the chief executive said, “We’ve been clear from the outset that what we want is a new system of quota sharing based on zonal attachment, based on where fish are actually found and not on the historical practices of many years ago.
“If you look at the 12 or 13 key commercial species for the Scottish fishing industry and all of these, a quota sharing arrangement based on zonal attachment would bring a significantly higher quota share for the UK.”