The consequences for the British fishing industry on Day 1 of Brexit have been given ample coverage in the UK media following a government document allegedly leaked on purpose. According to the document, clashes would place immediate strain on maritime agencies, with nearly 300 foreign boats fishing illegally on day one of Brexit.
The report, known as Operation Yellowhammer, said: “Up to 282 EU and European Economic Area nations’ fishing vessels could enter illegally or are already fishing in UK waters.
“This is likely to cause anger and frustration in the UK catching sector, which could lead to clashes between fishing vessels and an increase in non-compliance in the domestic fleet.
French fishermen have already warned they would stop British fish being sold in France if they were barred from the waters. Regional fishing committee’s in Northern France have even threatened to block Calais.
Chairman Olivier Lepretre said: “If there is a hard Brexit, I can assure you that not a single kilo of seafood or fish from Britain will get into France.
Current EU laws make 12 nautical miles around the coast of Britain free to use for foreign ships. International boats are also given access to up to 70% of the quotas for ground stocks in Britain.
France alone lands 120,000 tons of fish from the UK fishing zone, with the Netherlands and Denmark netting 177,000 tons and 237,000 tons respectively.
But with Britain taking back control of its waters, the laws could be revoked and UK fishermen will enjoy 200 nautical miles of exclusive access.
The document comes just a week after leaked emails from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) warned the UK may not be able to fully protect its waters after Brexit.
They claimed Britain’s 12 patrol boats could not respond to threats across a perimeter chiefs claim is three times the surface area of the UK.
But British fishermen are excited by the prospect of exclusive access and the end of the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP). Polls claimed 92% of those in the industry voted to leave the European bloc, with concerns on the CFP at the forefront of the debate.
Fishermen say leaving the EU would see the sector boom without stringent CFP rules on the amount and type of each fish that are allowed to be caught.
Fishing for Leave said: “On taking office as Prime Minister, Boris Johnson said he would energize the United Kingdom.
“One way of doing this which would be both hugely beneficial and environmentally rewarding is for the UK - abiding by International law - again to manage our nation’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) of 200 nautical miles/median line zone and doing so in a far superior way to the Common Fisheries Policy.