UKIP fisheries spokesman, Mike Hookem MEP, has slammed a decision to use the “scant resources” of Border Force to police EU environmental law on a Kent sandbank, saying, “the priority of Border Force on the South-East Coast should be protecting Britain from illegal migration and criminal activity; not persecuting fishermen for potential breaches of EU environmental law.”
The revelations that Border Force will be used to ‘ensure full compliance’ with the 1992 EU ‘Habitats Directive’ on a small sandbank near Margate came to light in a recent document published by fishing enforcement agency, the Marine Management Organisation (MMO).
The MMO document says that the estimated annual enforcement costs to protect the sandbank range from £17,375 – £18,375. However, under the heading, “Other key non-monetised costs” the document states; “The MMO proposes to use other enforcement bodies such as UK Border Agency and the police to fully utilise their resources for surveillance and enforcement. These costs cannot be monetised at present as they are requested on an ad hoc basis, and costs can vary.”
Speaking from Brussels, Yorkshire and North Lincs. MEP, Mr Hookem said, “I think the MMO’s decision to heap further pressure on Border Force in an area already under great pressure from the ongoing European migrant crisis is a flagrant waste of scant resources.”
Mr Hookem continued, “The UK Border Agency has recently seen budget cuts totalling £100 million. However, it would seem Government mandarins feel it is more important to uphold EU legislation; than protect our coastline from illegal immigration and criminal activity.”
“This move by the MMO to use Border Force as its police force seems to follow a worrying pattern. From speaking to members of fishing communities up and down the country, it seems that Border Agency vessels are being used more and more to police the fishing industry, with boardings to check catches becoming a regular occurrence.”
“Having spent five weeks examining the migrant crisis in Northern France, I understand the threat this country currently faces from illegal migration. Border Force does not need the distraction of having to police fisheries and enforce barmy EU rules.”
Mr Hookem’s outrage at the MMO’s move to use Border Force assets to police UK fisheries was echoed by Essex fishing skipper, Ray Lovett, who often operates in the Margate area.
Mr Lovett said, “as a full-time fisherman with many years’ experience, I have been subjected to this wasteful use of our protection services before. I do not understand how priority can be given to harassing law-abiding inshore fishermen with Border Agency craft; while at the same time illegal immigrants are being boated ashore on the beaches of South East England.
“What if these were terrorists?
“The public must be made aware that our political masters - people who are supposed to serve us the Great British public - put more emphasis on trying to catch out fishermen than they do to protect our shores from criminal activity and illegal immigration.
“This madness must be highlighted and stopped!”