New Clause 8 - Agency arrangements between sea fish licensing authorities

Part of Fisheries Bill [Lords] – in the House of Commons at 6:30 pm on 13th October 2020.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Victoria Prentis Victoria Prentis The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs 6:30 pm, 13th October 2020

I am afraid it is too early to answer the hon. Gentleman’s question, but I look forward to future discussions with him about that. Some of tonight’s amendments do relate to Northern Ireland, but I do not think that he will be surprised by any of them.

I am concerned that those who support the sustainability amendment are losing sight of the importance of the precautionary objective, which will ensure that we maintain and rebuild healthy fish stocks, and indeed the ecosystem objective, which is critical to allow us to take a joined-up approach to protecting our precious marine environment. Those objectives will together help to deliver for sustainable fishing much more than were we to have only the sustainability objective. I am concerned that those who support the amendment would see the other objectives deprioritised.

I am keen to be able to balance environmental, social and economic needs. I am worried that if the amendment is passed, it would mean that, for example, infra- structure projects in ports that might cause a short-term environmental detriment could not be built, which would in turn deprive coastal communities of future economic benefits. Another example is the issue of choke—when one fish quota is set so low that all other fishing in a mixed fishery is effectively prohibited. Over the past two years, if we had not been able to agree with the EU a small quota above scientific advice for cod in the Celtic sea, for example, the choke issue would have led to the closure of many valuable fisheries in the south-west that aim at other species, some of which are certified as sustainable by the Marine Stewardship Council.

With coastal communities in mind, let us move to amendment 1. As we have said, we must have the flexibility to support the social and economic wellbeing of our coastal communities. Again delivering on a commitment in our White Paper, I am really pleased to announce that the Government have launched a consultation on proposals to strengthen the economic link licence condition for English-registered vessels.