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A FLOTILLA of fishing boats sailed up the Thames to Westminster today in protest against the government’s failure to protect Britain’s fish stocks and the marine environment following Brexit.
Fishing fleet skippers and Greenpeace say industrial fishing by factory vessels is destroying fish stocks and seabed ecosystems.
The group warns that the economies of British fishing communities dependent on fleets of small fishing boats are being wrecked, especially on the southern North Sea and south coasts.
Half a million people signed a Greenpeace petition calling for industrial fishing vessels to be banned from marine protected areas, and polling shows four in five want supertrawlers banned from those areas.
The protest flotilla displayed banners reading “No fish, no future” in the first waterborne protest on the Thames since 2016.
The small fleets have declared a “state of emergency” in the Channel and Southern North Sea.
Neil Whitney, a south coast fisherman who is part of the flotilla, said: “Brexit was meant to save us, but instead we’ve been left high and dry.
“These big factory boats keep fishing in our waters, devastating fish populations.
“There’s nothing left for us local fishermen. We need the government to do what it promised and ban industrial fishing to protect us fishermen and our fishing communities.”
Fiona Nicholls of Greenpeace said: “Our oceans and our fishing communities are in crisis.
“Even in supposedly protected areas, industrial fishing vessels are destroying marine ecosystems and emptying our waters of fish.
“Never before have fishermen called for such strong marine protection measures, which should give politicians some idea of the scale of the problem facing them.”
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