Under-10-metre Fishing Fleet

Oral Answers to Questions — Environment, Food and Rural Affairs – in the House of Commons at 10:30 am on 4th November 2010.

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Photo of Laura Sandys Laura Sandys Conservative, South Thanet 10:30 am, 4th November 2010

For what reasons her Department has instructed the under-10-metre fishing fleet to maintain log books.

Photo of Richard Benyon Richard Benyon The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

The Marine Management Organisation has introduced a requirement for masters of under-10-metre fishing vessels fishing in, or transiting, either International Council for the Exploration of the Sea areas IVc and VIId, or ICES areas VIId and VIIe in the same fishing trip, to complete and submit an EU logbook. The new requirement has been introduced to provide greater assurance over the accuracy of catch information for fish stocks in those areas, following concerns expressed about potential misdeclaration of catch areas.

Photo of Laura Sandys Laura Sandys Conservative, South Thanet

As a great supporter of the under-10-metre fishing fleet, I hope that the Minister will point out to the MMO that this is a highly bureaucratic, quite impractical approach for some of the smaller boats. Will he urge the MMO to consider working much more closely with the local patrol fleets, which know these local fisheries much better than anybody else?

Photo of Richard Benyon Richard Benyon The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

I understand my hon. Friend's point. I know her local fishing community and how much she stands up for them. I am happy to meet them and discuss this. As we go forward with our negotiations with the Commission on catch quotas for next year, we have to do so on the basis of knowledge of what is there and on the basis of science. That sometimes requires us to ask fishermen to take actions that can add to their working day. I do not want to burden people with regulation-that is not the direction that the Government are going in-and I am happy to meet my hon. Friend and the MMO to see whether we can find another way forward, but we need an accurate declaration of stocks in those areas.