The former Ukip leader enraged environmentalists by hurling haddock off a trawler to highlight anger over the Government agreeing to remain subject to the EU Common Fisheries Policy during the Brexit transition period.
Tory MP Sir Mike Penning, a keen angler, revealed he had written to the Agency amid concerns the stunt was illegal. It came after Thames 21, Friends of the Earth and Greenpeace condemned Wednesday’s action, saying it increased pollution in an “already stressed ecosystem”.
Sir Mike said: “Putting salt water fish in a freshwater river is an absolute no-no – but when it’s dead fish then that’s arguably pollution. I think this was an own goal.
While I’m both a Brexiteer and hugely supportive of fishermen…I’m hugely protective of our rivers and polluting them in this way is not the way to get support.”
Throwing just one crate of dead fish overboard is not thought to constitute pollution, although any more could lead to a fine or even jail under The Environmental 2010 Permitting (England and Wales) Regulations.
This states it is an offence to “discharge poisonous, noxious or polluting matter or solid waste matter into inland freshwater, coastal waters and relevant territorial waters”.
Leading Brexiteer Jacob Rees-Mogg declined to take part, saying “I’m not throwing fish anywhere,” instead giving a press conference beforehand.
The protest descended into farce when the trawler was barred from docking at Westminster over licensing. Organisers, Fishing for Leave, said the fish dumping was symbolic of the fact catches are often discarded under EU quota rules.