Greenpeace out Brexit campaigners for ties with illegal fishing convict
A boat used by Brexit campaigners to sail up the Thames in an anti-EU publicity stunt is part owned by a convicted Scots black fish baron, Greenpeace has revealed.
Fraserburgh-registered Christina S, a 72-metre-long pelagic trawler, is one of two large vessels meant to be the showstoppers in a river protest organised by Scottish skippers heading towards Westminster this morning (Tuesday) to call for the UK’s withdrawal from the EU.
The flotilla, which will be joined by Ukip leader Nigel Farage and pro-Brexit fishery minister George Eustice, is supposed to represent British fishers struggling under unfair EU rules depriving them of their fair share of fishing rights.
Nigel Farage is cynically exploiting the legitimate anger of many British fishermen for political gain - John Sauven
However, Greenpeace has discovered one of the UK’s largest holders of fish quota is behind the flotilla’s lead vessel and the same ship was previously involved in a major fishing scandal.
The Christina S owner, Ernest Simpson, and his son Allan were given one the largest fines in 2012, £130,000 in total, after they were found to have landed undeclared fish – through so called black fishing - at a processing plant in Peterhead.
The trawler is still partly owned by Ernest Simpson. Another company with a stake in the vessel is fishing giant Andrew Marr International, a firm that controls 12% of all the English fishing quota through a series of subsidiaries, according to 2016 Sunday Times Rich List.
Greenpeace UK executive director John Sauven said: "A trawler once involved in Britain's biggest fishing fraud and now owned by a Sunday Times Rich List millionaire is an unfortunate choice to lead a flotilla supposed to represent a fishing industry on its last leg because of Brussels.
“But it's also an unwitting clue to where the real problem lies. It's not the EU but the grossly unfair division of fish quota rubber stamped by successive UK governments that's threatening the livelihoods of thousands of small-scale fishers.
“Brexit cheerleaders like Nigel Farage are cynically exploiting the legitimate anger of many British fishermen for political gain. The root of the problem lies in London, not Brussels. Quitting the EU will only condemn the industry to years of wrangling over new fisheries agreements, with no guarantee of a better deal for fishers or stronger protections for our seas."
Many small fishing businesses have blamed a fish quota allocation that favours large over small vessels for their dire predicament. The distribution of fishing rights within the UK’s fleet is entirely the responsibility of the UK’s fisheries minister.