Does foreign vessel entitlement go on forever?

Cornish MPs are calling on UK Fisheries Minister, Richard Benyon MP, to step up the pressure for the ending of the so-called ‘historic’ entitlement of foreign vessels to fish within the UK’s 12 mile zone.

The MP for West Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, Andrew George, has called upon the Fisheries Minister to ensure that there is a legal review of this entitlement. He claims that the entitlement is widely abused and that few if any of the foreign fishing boats which take advantage of the entitlement are not the same as those which were granted the entitlement when Britain joined Europe and the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP). The MP for South East Cornwall, Sheryll Murray, is also pressing the same case.

Mr George said: “The boats which take advantage of this ‘entitlement’ are significantly more powerful than the registered vessels which were granted a licence over 30 years ago.

“How long should a legacy entitlement last? Forever? Should it outlive the lives and careers of the fishermen granted the entitlement and the lower impact vessels which claim they originally fished between the 6 and 12 mile zone when the entitlements were granted?

“The historic entitlement of foreign vessels to fish so close to our coast was only intended to apply to vessels which were significantly less powerful and damaging than those that are taking advantage of this effective policy loophole now. Before the Government signs up to a new CFP next year it should make sure that this legacy is properly reviewed rather than just carried forward for another 10 years.

“With new marine conservation measures being implemented, Government Ministers should make sure that any rules are applied equally to all vessels whether UK or foreign. It would be completely unfair for British Ministers to tie the hands of UK fishermen within the 6-12 mile limit but be incapable of doing anything about the activities of foreign vessels. The only way to establish integrity in the 12 mile limit is to acknowledge that the old ‘historic’ entitlement has reached the end of the intended purpose. It cannot go on forever.”

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