Lives will be lost at sea in fishing clashes after Brexit an MP has warned unless the UK government extends legal jurisdiction out to the 200 mile coastal limit.
A call to protect Scottish trawlers from being sunk in encounters with foreign vessels has been made by Alistair Carmichael MP.
The Orkney and Shetland MP challenged the government to accept an amendment to the Fisheries Bill in the Commons on Tuesday and close the legal “gap” in safety at sea.
The move comes after an incident in June when a Shetland boat, the Alison Kay, was harassed by a Spanish vessel, the Pesorsa Dos, which attempted to cripple the Alison Kay’s propeller.
Despite representations by Carmichael and the Shetland Fisherman’s Association the Maritime and Coastguard Agency was unable to take action as it has no jurisdiction outside of the 12-mile limit.
Speaking ahead of the Fisheries Bill debate, Carmichael said: “At the time of the incident the MCA shrugged their shoulders and said there was nothing they could do as it happened outside the twelve-mile limit. They are not wrong – that is the current state of the law. If we are serious about managing our fisheries then it is time to end these unsafe practices.
“We have to close this gap in safety at sea and my amendment is a starting point for that change. Sooner or later a boat is going to be sunk and lives will be lost. The coastguard or police should be given the powers to stop this unsafe behaviour.”
Simon Collins, Executive Officer of the Shetland Fisherman’s Association, said: “There have been years of intimidation and intentionally dangerous practices on the part of a number of visiting fishing vessels operating around Shetland.
“Alistair Carmichael’s proposed amendment is very welcome to the local fishing fleet. It is high time that the UK authorities have the means to enforce maritime safety throughout our waters and thereby enable our vessels to go about their legitimate business peacefully and safely.”
Negotiations over a Brexit trade deal are still deadlocked over EU access to UK coastal waters after Brexit. Brussels wants continued access with the UK taking the stance that it will be an independent coastal state and will negotiate quota and catches on an annual basis.