Fisheries Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 4:36 pm on 21st November 2018.

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Photo of David Duguid David Duguid Conservative, Banff and Buchan 4:36 pm, 21st November 2018

I thank the hon. Gentleman for his comments. I will get to that point a little later.

The Fisheries Bill itself, and the White Paper before it, has been welcomed by organisations across the industry, including the Scottish Fishermen’s Federation. This vital legislation lays the groundwork for the revival of our fishing industry outside the common fisheries policy. It is important to note that, in the event of no deal, the Bill will ensure that all UK vessels can legally continue to fish in our own waters. For example, clause 7 revokes the CFP regulation that allows EU vessels unfettered access to our waters. Clause 8 introduces the common-sense principle that any foreign vessel that wants to fish in our waters must do so on our terms. This is taking back control of our waters, and it is the basis of the British fisheries sector’s revival. Clause 9 covers those UK fishing boats that are required to be licensed, as well as stating those for which licensing will not apply.

Clause 1 of the Bill defines the fisheries objectives, as many Members have said, and chief among them is the sustainability objective, which ensures that fishing and aquaculture is environmentally sustainable in the long term and managed in a way that is consistent with contributing to the economy and to food supplies. I was going to go through all the other objectives but, as I am pushed for time, I will skip them.

Clauses 9 to 17 set out rules for the licensing of UK and foreign fishing boats—I just want to cover that briefly. Although the devolved Administrations are responsible for licensing boats in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, licences issued by any UK fisheries administration will be valid across UK waters. The UK Government will agree access arrangements internationally and, although each of the devolved Administrations are responsible for issuing licences to foreign vessels in their zones, it is encouraging to know that the UK Government will administer the system, having already been provided with consent by the devolved Administrations.

Clauses 18 to 22 cover the allocation of fishing opportunities, an area on which I would like specific clarification from the Minister. Clause 18 deals with the Secretary of State’s power to determine fishing opportunities. I would appreciate it if Ministers would comment on the appropriateness of the Secretary of State setting quotas for lobster or brown crab in Scotland which, I believe, are subject to international agreement. Clause 22 is about the sale of English fishing opportunities. Given that English-registered vessels operate in Scottish producer organisations and vice versa, will the Minister please provide clarification on whether these would be available for all UK vessels?

Finally, let me say something about the future of the fishing industry in my constituency and of fishing communities around the UK. After decades of deterioration within the CFP, we will not see a full recovery overnight. Government support will be required, and this House has previously been assured of that support by the Prime Minister and others

“to secure a sustainable and profitable fishing industry that will regenerate coastal communities and support future generations of UK fishermen.”

I conclude by reassuring the Minister that after we leave the CFP and become an independent coastal state, with all the powers and control that that entails, I will look forward to continuing to work with the Government to deliver that ambition to regenerate not only the fishing industry, but the wider communities and economy for which the “sea of opportunity” will deliver.