Former First Sea Lord says it’s 'absolutely right' Royal Navy protects British fishing waters after Brexit
BRITAIN’S former head of the Royal Navy has said it's ‘absolutely right’ crews should patrol fishing waters after Brexit.
Admiral Lord Alan West’s comments come comes as four navy vessels could be deployed to police British fishing waters if fishermen get ‘feisty’ following a no-deal exit from the Brexit transition period on January 1, it has been reported.
The former First Sea Lord told The News: ‘Clearly if we become an independent country and there's no agreement with fish, we’ve got territorial seas and an exclusive economic zone that belong to us, and if the government decides it doesn’t want other nations to use that with no agreement, then the navy is the force to enforce that.’
He added: ‘It’s absolutely right that we should do.
‘It’s right for the navy to enforce that, we've always enforced that.’
The potential deployment is reminiscent of the 1970s Cod Wars with Iceland over fishing rights.
Lord West said ‘people feel strongly about their fishing rights’. He added: ‘We've done fishery protection for 100s of years.’
Four vessels are being prepared for service to make sure European Union fishermen do not fish in British waters, the Daily Mail reported.
A navy source told the national newspaper: ‘It’s highly likely you’ll get a couple of those at sea on New Year’s Day.’
Crews would be onboard offshore patrol vessels, armed with 20mm or 30mm cannons and 7.62mm machine guns.
A government source told the newspaper: ‘They’ll be able to support border force and step in when there are boats in our waters that are not compliant and not willing to exit.
‘If there’s a fishing vessel within 12 nautical miles that isn’t willing to leave that is when the navy will step in’.
Michael Gove, a senior minister with responsibility for Brexit planning, previously said the navy would ‘make sure no one is abusing their rights when it comes to access to our fishing water’.
Government has this weekend to negotiate a trade deal with the EU ahead of the end of the Brexit transition period on January 1.
Elsewhere, there remain concerns government has underfunded mitigation plans to ensure there is no traffic chaos if lorries arrive without correct paperwork at Portsmouth International Port.