Theresa May, the Prime Minister, has announced that she is prepared to block European vessels from fishing in British waters if no Brexit deal is agreed between the UK and EU. The Prime Minister has served a two year notice to the EU, announcing that she would pull Britain out of the 1964 London convention, the agreement that gives EU nations access to fishing waters between six and twelve nautical miles from British shores, if the EU is not willing to compromise on some of its Brexit proposals. Pulling out of the London convention would prevent all European countries from fishing in British waters, whereas simply withdrawing from the EU common fisheries policy would only prevent certain EU countries from fishing in British waters (those which are not party to the London convention). The House of Lords EU committee were informed last year that the convention gave the UK rights to fish in five areas of foreign coast but allowed other EU states to fish in 32 areas of the British coast. Therefore, fishermen from other EU states have more to lose by the termination of the agreement. In addition, foreign vessels land an average of 58 per cent of the fish caught in UK waters each year whereas British vessels catch only 21 per cent of their fish in EU waters beyond the UK exclusive economic zone. In practice, a no-foreign-fishing zone will be almost impossible to maintain in practice, since Britain is unlikely to spend significant amounts of money on the navy to uphold this commitment. EU fishing groups already say they will insist that tariffs are levied on UK fish exported to the EU if access is withdrawn. The fishing industry make up a comparatively small amount of GDP, but a number of coastal communities are still heavily dependent on the industry and its supply chains.
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