Monday, December 14, 2020

Protecting British Fishing

One of the biggest stumbling blocks holding up Brexit trade talks is the right to fish in UK waters. Under European Union rules European and UK fishing vessels have been allowed to fish in each others waters. This will change after Brexit and new fishing rights need to be negotiated. At the moment the UK and EU can't agree on fishing quotas and the length of a transition period for fishing fleets after Brexit.

For some reason the UK government has made protecting its tiny fishing industry one of its biggest red-lines in its Brexit negotiations with the EU. A decision that is perplexing nearly every other industry in the UK.It certainly appears that for the UK government the question of its sovereignty over UK waters is of far more symbolic importance than the health of the UK economy. 

This Map of Fishing Vessels uses AIS data to plot the locations of all shipping vessels yesterday afternoon. On the map the nationality of individual fishing boats are shown using country flags. You can also click on individual markers to view where a fishing vessel is registered.

It is important to note that this map only shows a snapshot of the location of fishing vessels at one moment on a Sunday afternoon in December. To get a true picture we would need a bigger dataset -perhaps looking at the number of fishing vessels from different countries fishing in UK waters over a whole year.

The Map of Fishing Vessels also doesn't display the Exclusive Economic Zones around each coastal country. An Exclusive Economic Zone is the area of the sea over which an individual country has special rights regarding the exploration and use of marine resources. A few days ago The Guardian published the above map of the Exclusive Economic Zones of the UK and neighboring coastal countries in an article on the UK's planned deployment of four gun boats to protect UK fishing waters in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

Using the two maps it appears to me that on Sunday the only significant number of non-UK fishing boats within the UK's Exclusive Economic Zone were Norwegian. 

Norway isn't in the European Union.

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