“Britannia used to rule the waves – but cuts make it a laughing stock”

Published Nov 08, 2017

UKIP fisheries spokesman, Mike Hookem MEP, has slammed the Government for “allowing” illegal fishing by Spanish trawlers off Gibraltar, saying, “the lack of UK investment into the Royal Navy and fisheries policing and protection is encouraging a situation where the Spanish can rob us blind.”

Mr Hookem’s comments came after furious Gibraltarians took to Twitter to complain about illegal fishing incursions by Spanish vessels into British Gibraltar’s Territorial Waters. Twitter users claim one Spanish fishing boat – the Virgin Carmen 1 – is “pushing its luck” by illegally fishing on seven separate days in October alone.
Speaking from Brussels, Mr Hookem said, “This whole situation is down to a lack of investment in both the Royal Navy and fisheries protection!”
“What hope do we have of protecting our citizen's rights off Gibraltar when we have only four vessels patrolling the coast and fisheries of the UK mainland.
“I know the Royal Navy do their utmost to chase away vessels acting illegally in Gibraltarian waters, but they are overstretched, underfunded and facing further budget cuts.
“The whole situation is ridiculous, and the UK is fast becoming the laughing stock of the waves, rather than ruling them as we used to. 
“The situation in Gibraltar is only going to get worse as we move towards Brexit; with the Spanish ramping up the pressure for the return of Gibraltar, against the wishes of its citizens. 
“However, this situation is a prime example of just how run down our defences have become, and why we must have investment in both fisheries protect and the UK’s armed forces.
“If fishing communities across Britain achieve the aim of repatriating the UK’s 200-mile EEZ, we must have the means, the ability and the will to protect all our waters from this type of activity, both here in the UK and in our overseas territories.”
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