Blue Planet II showed us the immense pressures that are facing the ocean. We need sustainable fishing laws that better protect our ocean and the marine life that depends on it.
A new law to ensure fish stocks are protected from overfishing after Britain leaves the EU would be supported by more than three out of four people across the UK, according to a new poll.
The survey has been conducted by YouGov and shows there is widespread support amongst the British public for new laws that ensure we fish responsibly and protect the marine environment. A total of 79 percent of respondents said they believe the government has a moral duty to ensure sustainable fishing.
Further, more than 80 percent people support an increase in government fines for illegal overfishing after Britain leaves the EU - including 86 percent of ‘leave’ voters.
Illegal fishing puts fish stocks and marine habitats at risk. The UK is currently failing to police fisheries laws properly and out of the four biggest EU fishing nations, Scotland had the highest rates of reoffending.
Amy Hill, a fisheries lawyer at ClientEarth, said: “The results are clear. People overwhelmingly support sustainable fishing laws once Britain leaves the EU and want the government to make sure that overfishing is prevented.
“Blue Planet II showed us the immense pressures that are facing the ocean. We need sustainable fishing laws that better protect our ocean and the marine life that depends on it.
“Some MPs should stop playing politics with the ocean. Healthy fish populations will ensure a profitable fishing industry and healthy seas for everyone. Whatever happens with Brexit, people want strong laws that ensure we fish in a way the ocean can support.”
The government announced last month that the EU will continue to control Britain’s waters until the end of 2020, and will be “consulted” on future fishing quotas as part of the Brexit transition deal. But in reality, the future of UK fisheries depends on a government white paper - due this Spring.
The majority of people surveyed said protecting fish stocks from overfishing should be the government’s priority in the Brexit negotiations, rather than ensuring the British fishing industry has a larger share of fish to catch.
Hill added: “Protecting our fish and our marine life should be the government’s top priority in any future negotiations with the EU. And no matter what happens, the UK needs to cooperate with our neighbours and fish responsibly once we leave the EU.”
Brendan Montague is editor of The Ecologist. This article is based on a press release from ClientEarth.