Brexit LIVE: Boris drops the ball on fishing and hands licences to NINE EU supertrawlers

Jayne Adye, director of the pro-Brexit campaign group Get Britain Out, was speaking after the Africa and the Zeeland, two of the largest fishing vessels in the world, were spotted just 15 miles off the Cornwall coast on several days this week. Ms Adye said: “Both are registered in the Netherlands, and for some obscure reason, have been given licences to fish in UK waters. They are both well over 100 meters long and use nets which can be the size of six football pitches.”

She added: “Such large vessels indiscriminately catch huge numbers of fish at one time, whatever their species and size, with no regard for the damage this must do to the fish stocks of this country as well as the general biodiversity of UK waters.

Despite what Ms Adye called “this serious threat to the United Kingdom’s fishing industry”, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), headed by Environment Secretary George Eustice, had given permission for both vessels to fish here, she pointed out.

In addition, seven other supertrawlers registered in the European Union were operating with the blessing of the UK Government, which had also rolled more than 1,500 fishing licences for EU vessels.

A Defra spokesperson said: “As an independent coastal state we can now review which vessels, including supertrawlers, can access and fish our waters.

“The new licensing framework within the Fisheries Act allows us to apply conditions to the activities of all fishing vessels in our waters – regardless of their nationality – and will need to abide by UK rules around sustainability and access to our ‘Blue Belt’ of protected waters.”