Protect our waters! UK’s block on France vindicated as fish stocks found at HIGH risk

Brexit: Raab addresses ‘outlandish’ EU fishing proposals

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As relations have soured between Britain and the EU post-Brexit, a key source of the soaring tension has been over fishing rights. And rightly so, after a new study has shown that the UK’s fish population is already particularly vulnerable. Marine researchers working in the UK, Denmark the Netherlands published the outcomes of their study in the journal PNAS. It suggested that fisheries and coastal communities in the UK and the Eastern Mediterranean are already at the highest risk of being affected by climate change.

Experts warned that this could have disastrous consequences on fishing communities in the UK who could become limited to fishing only one species, of which the numbers could drop because of climate change.

This would seriously impact local businesses and experts have suggested the UK would need income support or alternative livelihoods to adapt to the changes.

In 2019, fishing contributed £437million to the British economy, and it remains a major source of employment to coastal communities, responsible for thousands of jobs.

It is perhaps no surprise then that in the latest battle over fishing rights between Britain and France post-Brextit, the UK granted just 12 licences from 47 bids for smaller vessels to fish in its territorial waters.

Under the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP), which is a set of rules through which European fishing fleets and fish stocks are managed, all EU member states are given equal access to EU waters to create fair competition

But British fishing organisations say that the EU’s Common Fisheries Policy means they did not receive their fair share of quotas, which are the rights to catch a certain amount of fish in UK waters.

After leaving the EU, Britain has been continuously battling with France to protect its territorial waters as it wants to get a greater share of its own fish supplies.

Around £160million worth of England’s fishing quota is possessed by vessels owned by companies based in Iceland, Spain and the Netherlands.

That amounts to 130,000 tonnes of fish a year and 55 percent of the quota’s annual value in 2019, the BBC reported.

A deal that came into effect on January 2021, still allows EU boats to fish in UK waters for some years to come but gives UK boats a greater share of the catch.

A quarter of France’s national catch still comes from Britain’s fish-rich waters and the UK has granted licences to nearly 2,000 French vessels.

But French fishermen have said this is still not enough.

It comes after alarm bells have already been sounded over the issue.

According to another study, rising ocean temperature due to climate change could force UK fish to relocate to new environments and leave several species completely extinct.

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Professor Chris Venditti, an evolutionary biologist at the University of Reading, said: “Warming waters are a double whammy for fish, as they not only cause them to evolve to a smaller size, but also reduce their ability to move to more suitable environments.

“This has serious implications for all fish and our food security, as many of the species we eat could become increasingly scarce or even non-existent in decades to come.”

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