Fishing for Leave has informed the Government that a number of current EU states will have “backdoor” access to part of Britain’s fishing waters under the London Conventions Act 1964 – a precursor sweetener deal which was agreed upon to try and crowbar Britain into the EU, the group claim.
Under current Brussels law derived from the EU Common Fisheries Policy (CFP), members of the European superstate are allowed to fish between 12 and 200 miles away from British coastlines.
Yet the London Conventions Act, which predates Britain’s entry into the EU, gives a gaggle of nations access into fishing waters between six and 12 nautical miles from British shores – which particularly effects smaller businesses and boats who tend to fish closer to the coast.
Alan Hastings, from Fishing for Leave, said that because the deal was signed before Britain joined the EU, European states will still have access to the six mile ring around British coastlines as this legislation is not part of EU law which may be repealed when Article 50 is triggered.
The pre-EU agreement will take two years to finally be denounced – meaning the legislation must be rescinded at the same time that Article 50 is triggered so it coincides with when Britian finally leaves the Brussels bloc, the group argue.
Mr Hastings said: “European nations access rights between 12 and 200 miles were entirely gained under the CFP, but they will still have this old historic agreement between six and 12.
“Once you give them access they can jump up and down, the can say you have allowed us to be here, we still want our shares under the law. It leaves them a backdoor where they can sneak round the back and get in.
“They will try their absolute hardest to throw them out, the French especially who have built up an big fleet to get in our waters.”
The pressure group argue Theresa May’s decision on whether to tear up the archaic legislation will be a litmus test for whether she wants to commit to a Brexit or appease EU states by not rocking the boat during negotiations.
Mr Hastings added: “If they don’t denounce this convention, it just shows that the Government is not serious about regaining control of our fisheries… if you aren’t going to take the easy step of closing the backdoor early on, then you aren’t going to take the hard step of closing the front door two years later.”
The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DeFRA) told the Express.co.uk: “The Government is aware of the issue of historic access rights under the London Fisheries Convention; it is under consideration as part of our ongoing work to review fisheries policy.
“We recognise the importance of our fishing industry and we will be working hard to secure the best possible deal for all our fishermen – both now, and for the future.
“Leaving the EU is a real opportunity to review fisheries management in order to ensure fair access to quota, sustainable stocks and a healthy marine environment.”