As UKIP leader Nigel Farage leads a flotilla of UK fishermen up the Thames to protest unfair fishing quota allocation, it has been revealed that the fleet’s flagship trawler was caught up in the UK’s largest ever fraud involving illegal catches of fish: ‘the black fish’ scandal of 2009.
The Christina S vessel is now partly owned by one of the richest fishing barons in the country, Andrew Marr, who was named in our recent investigation into the monopolisation of UK fishing rights.
The investigation has revealed how a handful of millionaire-owned fishing firms, some convicted of criminal offences, are monopolising UK fishing quotas, leaving small-scale fishers without permission to catch enough to support themselves.
Politicians campaigning for the UK to leave the European Union – notably fisheries minister George Eustace – have been laying the blame for unfairness in the quota system at the feet of the EU.
However, since the Common Fisheries Policy was reformed in 2013, the power to allocate quota has been in the hands of UK government.
Read the investigation in full…
Three companies own the rights to 61% of UK fish, while some firms hoard quota on vessels that never cast a net, leasing it out to smaller players at extortionate rates.
The UK government body that controls fishing quota has had its budget cut by over £10 million in five years, leading to a significant decrease in inspections that has allowed some criminal firms to operate with impunity.
The Nina May is a small fibreglass dinghy that holds nearly a fifth of all fishing rights for the South West of England, and never leaves the marina. She’s symptomatic of a system that experts say is out of hand.
Since the investigation was published in the Sunday Times and the Guardian, the findings have been quoted by UK politicians calling for a change to the quota system, including Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.
Disclaimer: The footage used in this video is illustrative of the types of vessels and fishing methods referred to in the investigation. There is no suggestion that the vessels pictured are involved in activities mentioned in this investigation.