The French authorities have stated that the presence of large pelagic freezer trawlers, which have been operating in the English Channel since the end of Septemer, has no effect on fishing opportunities for the French fleet – but given their size and potential impact, they are given special attention in terms of monitoring.
There has been some heated debate within the fishing community on both sides of the Channel over the presence of The Dutch-owned, Lithuanian-flagged Margiris and the German-flagged Annie Hillina.
According to the French government statement, the appearance of these vessels in the Channel is a regular event at this time of year, fishing in EU waters, but outside of French and UK territorial waters.
‘Equal access to EU waters and resources for European fishing vessels is a key principle of the Common Fisheries Policy. It allows vessels flying the flag of a Member State of the European Union with quotas to fish regularly in the exclusive economic zones of the various Member States,’ the French authorities state.
‘This principle is supported by France. It guarantees in particular that today French vessels have access to UK waters, for example.’
The French authorities state that the two trawlers are fishing on quotas that are counted against the national quotas of the relevant member states.
‘The activity of these vessels therefore has no impact on fishing opportunities for French vessels,’ the French authorities state.
‘But given their size and potential impact on stocks, these vessels are given special attention in risk analyses. The presence of this type of fishing vessel calls for vigilance by monitoring authorities. In order to ensure the effective application of the regulations, the National Centre for Fisheries Surveillance, which is active 24 hours a day, keeps a close watch on the activities of the vessels concerned.’