Fisheries Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 6:10 pm on 21st November 2018.

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Photo of Derek Thomas Derek Thomas Conservative, St Ives 6:10 pm, 21st November 2018

There is great quality fish from Newlyn as well. Actually, that is an important point. The quality of fish caught around the Cornish coast is significant, and it is in demand from Europe. I therefore have no doubt that we will get to the point where Europe will continue to want and buy Cornish fish.

My local fishermen welcome this Bill, broadly because its primary objective is to promote sustainable fisheries management. They know more than anyone that sustainable fisheries management arrangements are the right thing, demonstrating a respect for the oceans and its contents and delivering a future for an essential food source and for skilled employment. They know that the UK, particularly Cornwall, is already a world leader in sustainable fisheries management. Fishermen in Cornwall, through the Cornish Fish Producers Organisation, already work on many fronts to promote conservation initiatives and safe working practice, and to demonstrate their commitment to realising a sustainable future.

It is important to remind the House of the benefits of Brexit to our fishermen. We will be an independent coastal state. We will have control of access to UK waters and ensure that British fishermen get a fair deal and are able to catch more because of a commitment to sustain stocks. We will revive coastal communities. Perhaps the Secretary of State could talk to the Prime Minister, because we are concerned about permanent workers from overseas potentially being excluded through a new immigration policy, which would have a detrimental impact on our fishing sector. It would be great to get clarity on whether people from overseas who work full-time in fishing can keep their jobs. We will also be able to maintain and develop the UK industry’s role as world leaders in sustainable fisheries policy.

The Government must not extend the common fisheries policy beyond 2020 or adopt an interim arrangement allowing the EU to set rules binding UK fisheries in any sort of extended implementation period or backstop. Furthermore, the Secretary of State must confirm today that the Government will not sacrifice the potential of Brexit for the British fishing industry in any way and that they will reject any future proposals from the EU that seek to wrestle away control of access to UK waters. Should the Government back down on their promises, the Bill cannot be delivered, and we will have failed and betrayed our fishing sector.

My fishermen are watching this closely, and they understand the risks of not getting this right. They are paying their mortgages, feeding their families and paying their taxes because of the fishing they do day in, day out, and we should take that seriously when considering their futures.

The Cornish Fish Producers’ Organisation has set out three simple asks of the Government. First, it asks the Government to establish a formal advisory council to guide policy, promote collaboration between central Government, devolved Administrations and the industry and allow for ongoing dialogue in a naturally variable industry. It is important that fishermen and fishing experts are sat around the table in that advisory council.

Secondly, the CFPO asks the Secretary of State to ensure a practical approach to sustainable fisheries management. Maximum sustainable yields—a key part of the regime—could fail in the same way that the CFP has failed, so it is important that we look at many other options to secure a good, sustainable fishing industry. Finally, the CFPO asks the Secretary of State to set out a dispute resolution mechanism, so that when things go wrong, they can be properly resolved.