Spanish stealing our fish! Brexit fury erupts as Cornish fishermen ‘robbed’ by trawlers

Macron's fishing threats would harm 'everybody' says expert

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Locals in Newlyn, on the shores of Mount Bay, claim hake is being caught below the minimum landing size. This means, due to size, they are not able to be sold under law stating any catches below minimum landing size must be discarded.

A Newlyn local told industry news website The Fishing Daily that he was concerned at the rising number of UK-registered, Spanish-owned vessels fishing off the Western Approaches.

He said he never saw as many coming into Newlyn to unload catches even when the UK was in the EU. The local fears the Marine Management Organisation may be unaware.

The Fishing Daily source said: “I was down there earlier on this week and I was looking through the boxes there.

“The size of the hake is just ridiculous.

“They’re coming in and landing them directly onto the back of the lorry to be shipped to Spain and they’ve even got the labels on there, merluza, which is the Spanish name for hake.”

An MMO spokesman said its enforcement activities are risk-based, intelligence-led and focus primarily on where seasonal fishing activity takes place. Enforcement is conducted when intelligence suggests there is a heightened risk of illegal fishing activity.

He added: “We would encourage people who suspect illegal activity to report their concerns to us so we can undertake assurance checks and take action where there is sufficient evidence to justify it.”

A second local told Express.co.uk UK fishermen are over-regulated while other countries have permission to catch in British waters.

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He claimed foreign-owned trawlers register in the UK in order to fish in British seas in a controversial move known as flag of convenience.

The loophole allows European crews to fish in British waters as long as they visit a UK port twice a year.

Speaking from Newlyn, the fisherman said it may be that Spanish trawlers land catch in Cornwall just to keep their own flag of convenience operation going.

He complained that, while foreign owned vessels could fish UK waters, regulations mean British fishermen face strict protocol.

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The accusation comes amid a row over fishing licences between the UK and France.

It was expected to come to a head with a December 10 deadline set for a resolution to be found.

However, the UK has rejected the deadline set by the European Commission to settle the dispute over the number of fishing licences handed to French fishing boats.

France’s seas minister Annick Girardin said on Thursday that, if the two countries have not reached an agreement by Friday evening, Paris will ask the European Commission to open litigation proceedings.

Ms Girardin said the legal action may take many months, but that France will never give up its rights.

She said the country is still waiting for the UK to grant 94 licences.

But Boris Johnson’s official spokesman said the deadline is not one the Government is working to – with Environment Secretary George Eustice instead expected to hold more talks with EU Commissioner Virginijus Sinkevicius on Friday.

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