Figures published by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) suggest Spain, Holland and non-EU state Iceland have already bought up almost 90 percent of the entire fishing quota of Wales, as well as more than half that assigned to England.
The revelation comes despite environment secretary Michael Gove’s insistence that Brexit will enable the UK to regain control of fishing rights within British waters.
Last week’s Brexit transition deal revealed that the UK will abide by the EU’s common fisheries policy for 21 months after departure from the bloc.
Douglas Ross, who represents the Moray constituency, said of the transition deal: “There is no spinning this as a good outcome, it would be easier to get someone to drink a pint of cold sick than try to sell this as a success.
British fisherman are facing the prospect of large numbers of fish ending up on the continent
Spain now owns 88 per cent of Welsh fishing quotas, Defra figures have revealed
“I hope my disappointment on behalf of Moray fishermen is clear and I will now be redoubling my efforts to ensure their interests are protected during the implementation period and any final deal that does not deliver, unequivocally, full control over fish stocks and vessel access will not have my support.”
Defra’s data reveals Spanish firms have bought permanent control of 88 percent of the fish quota for Wales, including whiting, hake, pollock and sole.
These fish are mainly caught by one vessel, the Armaven Uno, which belongs to Arzaven (UK), a company whose owners live in Spain.
Fish caught in seas off the coast of Wales therefore ends up in Spain.
A spokesman for Lesley Griffiths, the Welsh environment secretary, said: “Welsh vessel owners — as did Scottish and English — have legitimately sold their boats and quota allocations to UK companies with owners in other EU states.”
In addition, ships from Spain, Holland and Iceland dominate English waters.
One Dutch ship,the Cornelis Vrolijk, operating from Hull, owns a fifth of England’s entire quota.
Defra has pledged to review the situation. A spokeswoman said: “Leaving the EU gives the opportunity to design a new domestic fishing policy.”
Jim Pettipher of the Coastal Producer Organisation, which represents the owners of smaller boats, said: “Ministers are promising fishers more quota after Brexit.
“But Defra has let fishermen sell most of our quota to foreign firms.
“The problem is bad management. Brexit won’t change that.”
Thomas Appleby, a law lecturer at the University of the West of England, said: “England and Wales have mismanaged their fishing quota and Brexit will do nothing to put it right.”