A report published by Veterans for Britain gives a stark picture of the UK’s ability to protect its fishing waters after 2019.
By Neptune’s Grace: Strategic Maritime Planning for Brexit by Sheryll Murray MP, Rear-Admiral Roger Lane-Nott and Dr Lee Rotherham, describes a “woefully under-resourced” Fishery Protection Squadron and points to shortfalls in other aspects of coastal protection.
The report (in PDF format below) describes a range of urgent measures ministers must take.
• The UK would need to police its Exclusive Economic Zone against the risk of non-UK trawler owners intent on provoking an international incident. This can only be achieved by having capable assets in play.
• Government must urgently reverse the current decommissioning of offshore patrol vessels, such as HMS Severn.
• Government should hire vessels to fill the gap in a woefully under-resourced Fishery Protection Squadron ahead of Brexit.
• Scrapping the Common Fisheries Policy creates opportunities, but coastal protection is essential to support a change in the law – this must be understood across Government.
• Due to stretched resources, the Royal Navy must reorganise some of its international commitments to ensure an adequate level of assets active in home waters until capacity is rebuilt in the 2020s.
Sheryll Murray MP (South East Cornwall) said: “We must make sure that all tools are made available to ensure that we can comply with our responsibilities to protect our maritime waters under Articles 61,62 and 63 of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea once we have withdrawn from the Common Fisheries Policy.”
Rear-Admiral Roger Lane-Nott said: “As the political waters are changing, there is a clear need for more fishery protection and commitments in this area could not come soon enough. This is of course additional to the need for a revival in inshore capability for coastal and mine protection.”
Dr Lee Rotherham said: “We must give Michael Gove the tools to do the job.”By Neptune strategic maritime Murray Lane Nott Rotherham
Background on By Neptune’s Grace: Strategic Maritime Planning for Brexit:
The UK, together with its Dependant Overseas Territories, has the fifth-largest collective EEZ in the world, running at just short of 2 million square nm. Its coastline is 7,700 (land) miles. The UK’s global commitments to policing these waters, international shipping lanes and in support of allies around the world will limit what can be achieved using what are already stretched assets.
While the political and legal arguments will need a great deal of unravelling post Brexit, the key question is how the UK can regain its fishing rights and more importantly enforce them.
The crux of the problem here is a lack of assets.
While air surveillance is key, any enforcement will only be possible by ships at sea, requiring boarding and arresting if necessary those vessels that enter UK waters illegally.
About Veterans for Britain:
Veterans for Britain is a Leave campaign group which wants to ensure that UK defence links with the EU are not restrictive and do not damage the country’s strategic interests.
The group is led by ex-Armed Forces personnel but welcomes support from everyone who cares about the UK’s autonomy, particularly in defence.
The UK and its Armed Forces will be freer and more effective under more democratic control, and more able to retain their distinctive capabilities and ethos if they are without the impositions currently being applied by the EU in defence command, defence structures, operations, procurement, intelligence and the development of new technology – even as the UK is leaving the bloc.
Veterans for Britain believes it is essential to maintain and where necessary re-establish the United Kingdom’s autonomy in defence in the context of its pre-existing alliances, principally NATO, and to ensure defence is directly and solely accountable to the UK Parliament.