Greenpeace activists hold a sign up on Westminster Bridge before a flotilla of Greenpeace fishing boats sail up the River Thames to the Houses of Parliament, for a protest from fishermen about the lack of support they have received since Brexit. Picture: PA via Reuters
Greenpeace activists hold a sign up on Westminster Bridge before a flotilla of Greenpeace fishing boats sail up the River Thames to the Houses of Parliament, for a protest from fishermen about the lack of support they have received since Brexit. Picture: PA via Reuters

WATCH: Greenpeace joins forces with UK fishermen to deliver a message to Parliament

By Dominic Naidoo Time of article published Oct 6, 2021

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A flotilla of small-scale fishermen from around Britain joined forces with Greenpeace to hold simultaneous protests on the River Thames outside Britain’s Houses of Parliament, and held simultaneous protests on Westminster and Lambeth bridges in a bid to get the government to save jobs and support fishing communities.

They said these were key Brexit promises which have not been delivered.

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On September 22 the flotilla of small to medium-scale fishing vessels sailed up the Thames to Westminster, and moored outside the Houses of Parliament, flying banners reading: “No fish, no future.”

During the protests testimonials by fishers struggling because of industrial fishing were played over loudspeakers.

Half a million Britons signed a petition in support of stronger action against foreign industrial fishing vessels which ply their trade along UK waters and around the world.

Greenpeace and the fishers say if industrial fishing is not stopped, fishing communities and marine ecosystems will suffer irreparable harm.

Greenpeace said in a statement: “The public strongly supports action from the government to stop industrial fishing.” It also wants industrial fishing vessels to be banned from Marine Protected Areas (MPAs).

Fishermen in the flotilla declared a state of emergency in the English Channel and Southern North Sea.

The fishers want to see a full ban on industrial trawlers over 55m in length and fly-shooters in the entire Channel and Southern North Sea, and bans for supertrawlers, bottom trawlers and fly-shooters in all Channel MPAs.

A Greenpeace boat on the River Thames by the Houses of Parliament in central London, for a Greenpeace protest from fishermen about the lack of support they have received since Brexit. Picture: PA via Reuters

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.”

A research study undertaken by National Geographic in 2018 found: “More than 55% of ocean surface is covered by industrial fishing. That’s more than four times the area covered by agriculture.”

To conduct this research and compile data, a team of researchers tracked marine vessels from space, using satellites to learn where industrial fishing vessels fished and when.

They said: “Industrial fishing has been responsible for harmful environmental impacts. Overfishing can deplete resources, many animals like dolphins and sea turtles are products of bycatch, and the massive vessels used require large amounts of CO2-producing fuel.”

The Global Fishing Watch says: “Marine protected areas act as a bank for fisheries, allowing a healthy stock of fish to flourish in off-limits areas. Conservationists have long argued for implementing more and larger marine reserves, but face opposition from the fishing industry.”

According to Envirotech Online, “supertrawlers are huge fishing vessels capable of harvesting thousands of tons of fish in a single expedition. These gargantuan vessels are defined as ones over 100m long, but they can measure almost 150m long, about 7m wide and weigh up to 10 000 tons, as well as tow nets almost 2km long.

“As well as decimating fishery stocks in UK waters, they could be endangering other marine populations such as dolphins, sharks and tuna.”

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