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The Government’s vision for the future fisheries policy as we leave the European Union and once again become an independent coastal state was set out in our July 2018 fisheries White Paper, “Sustainable fisheries for future generations”.
I am grateful to the Secretary of State for that reply. Brexit provides a great opportunity to revitalise the Lowestoft fishing industry, but to do so local fishermen must be able to catch enough fish to earn a fair living for themselves and to supply local merchants and processors. Will the Secretary of State confirm that the Fisheries Bill will deliver the root-and-branch reform that is required to ensure the fair distribution of fishing opportunities?
My hon. Friend makes a very important point. One of the benefits of leaving the common fisheries policy is that we can reallocate quota in such a way as to ensure that the inshore fleet and ports such as Lowestoft get a fairer share of the natural resources in our waters. As my hon. Friend the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food has pointed out, as well as supporting the inshore fleet, we can also end practices such as pulse fishing, which are environmentally damaging and lead to those who operate out of ports such as Lowestoft being distressed about the way in which other countries have been fishing in our waters.
Over the past 40 years, shellfish producers in my constituency have perfected the art of getting fish out of the sea and on to tables in Europe within a matter of hours, so they are dismayed that the Eyemouth fishing and supplies company D. R. Collin & Son has been refused every single ECMT haulage permit it has applied for. Will the Secretary of State explain why fewer than 1,000 of the 11,000 permits that have been applied for have so far been given out?
I will look at the issue. It is important that we make sure that high-quality fresh produce of the kind that the hon. Gentleman’s constituents are responsible for landing on our shores reaches appropriate markets. The one thing I would say is that the significant opportunities available to fishers in Scotland would be undermined by the Scottish Government’s policy of staying in the European Union and not leaving the common fisheries policy.
The Secretary of State has repeatedly given an assurance that there will be no further concessions in the EU negotiations on fishing, but he will be aware that the industry still has some reservations. May I invite him yet again to reassure it that there will be no further concessions and that the Government will hold firm to their present position?
Absolutely. We are going to become an independent coastal state, and as such we will decide who fishes in our waters. The threat to that position comes from Opposition Members who want to thwart our departure from the European Union, and who want us to stay in the common fisheries policy.
Seafood processors in Banff and Buchan have raised concerns about the possibility of them requiring ECMT permits if we leave the EU without a deal. What discussions has my right hon. Friend had with the Department for Transport to ensure that hauliers in the seafood sector can continue to transport to the EU27, regardless of the outcome of negotiations?
We have been talking to the Department for Transport and the European Commission to ensure that in the event of no deal we maintain access to European markets that is as frictionless as possible. As I know my hon. Friend and others are aware, it would be infinitely preferable to secure a deal, and I hope that Members across the House—including Opposition Members—will put the interests of their constituents ahead of ideology, and back the deal in the Prime Minister’s name.