New Clause 8 - Agency arrangements between sea fish licensing authorities

Part of Fisheries Bill [Lords] – in the House of Commons at 6:19 pm on 13th October 2020.

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Photo of Victoria Prentis Victoria Prentis The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs 6:19 pm, 13th October 2020

If I may I will make a little progress because I know my hon. Friend is speaking later.

Seafish is a fantastic UK-wide organisation that promotes the efficiency of the UK’s seafood industry, and neither I nor—importantly—my counterparts in Wales or Northern Ireland support the amendments on Seafish. Seafish has provided excellent support and information to all the Administrations regarding the impact of the covid pandemic on the seafood supply chain. Seafish delivers the hugely popular national fish and chip shop of the year awards, which this year was won by The Cod’s Scallops—what a name—in Wollaton in Nottinghamshire.

Seafish is able to tailor its work to different priorities. For example, it works to trial new types of sustainable fishing gear for the Scottish fishing industry. It has established and run the well-respected Northern Ireland fishing industry safety group and supported the industries to establish the Aquaculture Industry Wales group. Seafish supports the fishing industry across the UK, regardless of how much each Administration contributes. However much the Scottish Government may protest and dispute it, the Scottish industry receives far more than its fair share in monetary terms of support from Seafish. The amendments pre-empt the findings of a review of Seafish and do not address the impact there would be on the valuable services that it provides for England, Wales and Northern Ireland. I remain unconvinced of the need for these amendments.

Amendment 2 seeks to make environmental sustainability the Bill’s prime objective. This version of the Bill has significantly more focus on sustainability than its predecessor, and its objectives are unquestionably much stronger than those of the common fisheries policy. Unlike the CFP, and importantly, those objectives are legally binding on the fisheries administrations through the joint fisheries statement. We have also added the vital and world-leading climate change objective, which has been well received by non-governmental organisations. The bycatch objective addresses the root cause of discarding, rather than just focusing on the symptoms, as the CFP’s discard objective did.

The Government have a proud record on the marine environment. The global target is to protect 10% of marine and coastal areas by 2020; we have exceeded that. Some 25% of UK waters are currently protected, and we are pushing internationally for new global targets to protect at least 30% of the world’s ocean by 2030. It is no accident that the Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, my hon. Friend Rebecca Pow, is present listening to the debate. Her side of the Department and mine work extremely closely to ensure that environmental sustainability is at the heart of everything we do.

The Bill’s fisheries management plans will revolutionise how we manage our fisheries more sustainably by setting out targets and actions for specific areas, stocks and types of fishing. This is a holistic approach that will take the whole ecosystem into consideration.