MP Wants Ban On Foreign Fishing Vessels

Andrew George, MP

Scilly’s MP is calling on Fisheries Minister, Richard Benyon, to end the ‘historic’ entitlement of foreign vessels to fish within the UK’s 12 mile zone.

Andrew George says the agreement is widely abused as few foreign boats are the same ones which were granted the entitlement, based on ‘grandfather rights’ when Britain joined Europe and the Common Fisheries Policy.

The MP says the rule was intended to apply to vessels less powerful and damaging than those that are taking advantage of this loophole now and he wants the 30-year-old legislation axed.

The Scilly IFCA only has powers to protect the sea area up to 6 miles off Scilly.

Scilly’s Maritime Officer Steve Watt says there are often up to 8 mid-water French trawlers operating with mobile gear outside the islands’ limit and up to the 12 mile UK limit.

The Navy enforce that 6 to 12 mile offshore zone, although the Council has repeatedly asked for an extension.

Scilly’s jurisdiction was increased from 3-6 miles in 1994. Then Spanish and French boats were often fishing right up to that imaginary line.

Steve says the overseas vessels fishing off Scilly concern Cornish fishermen but their trawling for Cod doesn’t really affect Scilly’s fishermen who concentrate on shellfish and potting.

The visitors’ vessels have impacted on our lifeboat though. There have been two shouts to them in the last year, one for a fire another to deal with an injury.