More than three out of four people across the UK support a new law to ensure fish stocks are protected from overfishing after Britain leaves the EU, according to a new study.
The poll, conducted by YouGov, show there is widespread support amongst the British public for new laws that ensure we fish responsibly and protect the marine environment, with 79 percent who believe the government has a moral duty to ensure sustainable fishing.
More than four fifths of the population support an increase in government fines for illegal overfishing after Britain leaves the EU – including 86% of ‘leave’ voters.
Illegal fishing puts fish stocks and marine habitats at risk. The UK is currently failing to police fisheries laws properly and out of the four biggest EU fishing nations, Scotland had the highest rates of reoffending.
ClientEarth fisheries lawyer Amy Hill said: “The results are clear. People overwhelmingly support sustainable fishing laws once Britain leaves the EU and want the government to make sure that overfishing is prevented.
“Blue Planet II showed us the immense pressures that are facing the ocean. We need sustainable fishing laws that better protect our ocean and the marine life that depends on it.
“Some MPs should stop playing politics with the ocean. Healthy fish populations will ensure a profitable fishing industry and healthy seas for everyone. Whatever happens with Brexit, people want strong laws that ensure we fish in a way the ocean can support.”
Last month, the government announced the EU will continue to control Britain’s waters until the end of 2020, and will be “consulted” on future fishing quotas as part of the Brexit transition deal.
But in reality, the future of UK fisheries depends on a government white paper, due this Spring.
The majority of people surveyed said protecting fish stocks from overfishing should be the government’s priority in the Brexit negotiations, rather than ensuring the British fishing industry has a larger share of fish to catch.
Hill added: “Protecting our fish and our marine life should be the government’s top priority in any future negotiations with the EU.
“And no matter what happens, the UK needs to cooperate with our neighbours and fish responsibly, once we leave the EU.”
All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 1,845 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 18th – 19th March 2018. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 18+).