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The Royal Navy and Fishery Protection (Hardback)

From the Fourteenth Century to the Present

Maritime > Seaforth Publishing Military P&S History > British History

By Jon Wise
Seaforth Publishing
Pages: 320
ISBN: 9781399041706
Published: 4th August 2023


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From the first recorded mention of British ships protecting of fishing vessels in the late fourteenth century through to recent controversies over the change in emphasis to border patrols and overseas deployments, the story of the Royal Navy’s ‘Cinderella Fleet’ involves many dramatic incidents; until now, however, there has never been a book dedicated to the subject. Naval historian Jon Wise’s new work will rectify this omission.

Historically there have been two main reasons why protecting fishing vessels was so important: first, fish have always constituted an essential part of the nation’s diet while, secondly, fishermen have been an important source of skilled personnel for the Royal Navy itself. It is claimed that the Fishery Protection Squadron (FPS) is the oldest in the fleet, pre-dating the formal creation of the Navy itself in the early part of the sixteenth century, yet it still remains comparatively little-known. The Squadron’s most famous operations were the ‘Cod Wars’ of 1958–76, but for six centuries it has been engaged in the many important tasks of protection and policing of fishing fleets, though more recently it has turned its attention to patrolling oil and gas fields, overseeing quotas and sustainability, and policing the ongoing disagreements over who can fish where and when.

The author covers subjects as diverse as the battles with the Dutch for dominance in the North Sea, the protection of fishing on the eastern seaboard of America, and the role of the Squadron in the two World Wars. Containing many first-hand accounts, this thought-provoking narrative will be of particular interest to all those RN personnel who have served in the Squadron, and is set to become the definitive account of this vital but often unsung component of Britain’s naval forces, and its impact on national life.

As featured in

Newsletter of the ‘Ton’ Class Association

This book will be useful to anyone interested in the early history of the Royal Navy, especially its role in fishery protection.

Serving on RFA Olmeda in the 2nd cod war with Iceland, I found the book a well written, thought-provoking and enjoyable read.

South West Soundings, South West Maritime History Society

"Dr Jon Wise has published an important historical record based on comprehensive research and providing extensive ‘Notes’ of all his sources. This is a highly recommended, readable and interesting publication."

John M Bingeman - Royal Navy Sailing Association

As featured in

Warships International Fleet Review, November 2023

This book is highly recommended.

Read the Full Review Here

Naval Review

"An interesting read recommended to the many men who have served in the Fishery Protection Squadron."

Navy Daze, The Ton Class Association

Review as featured in

The Armourer - November 2023

The book is not just about the work of the RN protecting and policing the fishing fleet. Trawlers have played a significant role whether it be mine sweeping and ASW roles in both World Wars or intelligence gathering in the Cold War years. The author in his acknowledgements points out that he needed a “large amount of primary source research”, an understatement given the comprehensive notes and bibliography but he has more than succeeded in producing a masterly, good solid read on a vital part of the nation’s seafaring history. He is to be congratulated on writing what must be the definitive story of RN fishery protection.

Peter Wykeham-Martin, Warship World

As featured in

Lincolnshire Pride

Overall, this is a thoughtfully-written and well-researched book that will be of interest to both naval professionals and those responsible for the laws covering the unfettered movement of shipping across the oceans and within the vast economic exclusion zones that now exist. The problems and arguments that Wise describes focus on British fishing fleets and their protection when needed but they have much wider relevance and can be cross-referenced to many of the issues that complicate sea governance today, not least in the South China Sea. I thoroughly recommend it.

Read the review here

Australian Naval Institute

Featured in

Association of Royal Navy Officers newsletter

About Jon Wise

JON WISE completed an MA in Maritime History at the University of Greenwich in 2007 and completed his PhD in Naval History at the University of Exeter in 2012. He has written a number of books on twentieth-century British naval history, including The Royal Fleet Auxiliary in Focus, Vickers Barrow-built Warships, and The Royal Navy in South America, 1920-1970, based on his doctorate, as well as articles and book reviews in Warship World and Ships Monthly. He has been a regular contributor to the highly-respected annual, Warship. He has also co-authored a three-volume bibliographic guide to the novelist Graham Greene. Jon lives in Herefordshire with his wife.

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