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EU waging fishing war as fly-shooting could put UK industry on brink of collapse

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Such is the devastation caused by the practice of so-called ‘fly-shooting’, UK fishermen have warned it is now putting them out of business. Speaking to Express.co.uk, Chris Thorne, Greenpeace’s Ocean Manager claimed the practice is an existential threat to small-scale fishers in the UK. Not only is it putting them out of business but these fleets can also fish up to 11 times the capacity of a smaller boat and are doing wide-scale damage to the seabed up to 12 nautical miles from the UK’s coastline.

He said: “It’s been estimated that a fly-shooting vessel has the same fishing capacity as between four to 11 small boats and or so it is up to up to 11 times more efficient as small scale fishing.”

Mr Thorne added: “So small scale fishers on both sides of the Channel in both England and France, they’re really, really concerned about fly-shooting.

“And they consider it to be an existential threat to their livelihood.”

Many of the ships that plunder the waters are French and Dutch vessels which have been forced to do so since the ban on pulse fishing.

So-called fly-shooting uses heavy nets pulled across the seabed which startles fish and forces them into the space between ropes.

Such is the efficiency of fly-shooting, Greenpeace estimates there are up to 75 vessels which have licenses to plunder waters in the Channel – 15 of those are thought to be British-flagged. 

After plundering the waters, UK fishermen told Greenpeace they are forced to leave vital areas alone for up to two months in order for the fish stocks to recover and have called on the Government to ban the practice.

In 2019, the UK banned the practice of pulse fishing by EU and English-registered vessels which came into effect at the beginning of this year.

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The EU was also forced into banning the practice which came into effect on July 1, much to the displeasure of Dutch fleets which rely heavily on the technique.

Due to this, many fleets have turned to fly-shooting and Mr Thorne has claimed in the last year, many new fleets have emerged turning it into one of the main areas of concern for the organisation.

Last week, Greenpeace was also forced to track and deter a Dutch-flag trawler from the UK’s fishing waters.

The gigantic trawler had entered an environmental zone to hoover up fish stock but was forced to leave after Greenpeace tracked its movements.

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The Willem van der Zwan moved through a Marine Protected Area off the Sussex coast.

Due to this, the group has called on the Government to level up the UK’s waters and protect them from being plundered.

Fiona Nicholls, a Greenpeace UK oceans campaigner, said: “Supertrawlers like the Willem van der Zwan spend thousands of hours each year fishing inside our protected areas at sea.

”They endanger the health of our oceans, remove unimaginably vast quantities of fish from the ecosystem, and destroy the livelihoods of local fishers all around the UK.

“The Willem has absolutely no place fishing in the UK’s protected areas.

“Despite our patrol boat being a fraction of the size of this giant supertrawler, we are resolute about protecting these waters.

“Our government needs to deliver on its Brexit commitment to level up ocean protection, and ban supertrawlers from all UK protected areas.

“This would make Britain a world leader in marine protection, but if our government refuses to turn its rhetoric into action, we will continue to do all we can to protect our oceans.”

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