Fisheries Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 3:07 pm on 21st November 2018.

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Photo of Sue Hayman Sue Hayman Shadow Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs 3:07 pm, 21st November 2018

I am trying to make it clear that we are not opposing the Bill; we really do want to work with the Government to improve it and make it better for both the fishing industry and coastal communities.

Importantly, we have been told that environmental standards are not going to be weakened after Brexit. However, we are concerned that the Bill could allow the UK to fall behind where we would be as a member of the EU, so we want to ensure that this is tightened up and clear. On the international level, we would boost support for an ambitious new UN treaty for the high seas. The Government must stand up for our sea life by leading efforts for large-scale international protection—a goal that has been limited to date by the ineffectiveness of the existing regulatory framework. British diplomacy is vital to fill this gap, and I hope that Ministers are taking this very seriously.

As we leave the EU, it is right that we put in place the framework to ensure that any deal on fishing can be implemented but, as have I said, we have concerns that the Bill falls short in a number of areas. There is no strategy to redistribute our existing quota so that the small-scale, often family-owned, boats can get a fairer slice of the pie. There is no provision for dealing with future trade uncertainty, nor any mention of customs or border arrangements. And despite the Secretary of State’s assurances, the Bill does not set out the full details as to how we will manage our seas more responsibly. Without sustainable management of operations there will be no fish and no fishing industry, so it is disappointing there is no commitment to getting stocks to a maximum sustainable yield by 2020.

What we are discussing today is fundamental to the future of British fishing, and it is crucial that we get the Bill right. I hope that the Secretary of State will take on board the real concerns that I have outlined. Earlier he mentioned the opportunity ahead of us to refine and improve the Bill. I would ask that he works constructively with the Opposition to make those improvements.