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.

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

It may well be a Labour party policy now, but it was in our 2018 White Paper. The economic link is the route through which we ensure that there is a benefit to the UK from quota fished by UK boats. I am glad to see consensus across the House on this issue; it is clearly a sensible policy. Our consultation proposes a more sophisticated approach than amendment 1 would deliver, and one that I believe will bring higher value benefits to the UK and its coastal communities.

The consultation proposes increasing the landing requirement to 70% for quota species, strengthening the quota donation requirement, or using a combination of the two to meet the economic link requirement. Quota donation directly benefits the under-10-metre fleet, and that brings great benefits to their local ports and communities. Under amendment 1, our vessels would lose the flexibility to land where it is most suitable for their business. That might not always been an English port. Fishermen want to land where they can get the best prices, where it is most convenient or where there is the most appropriate port infrastructure. For example, the Voyager, which is registered in Northern Ireland, is too big to land in any Northern Irish ports and must instead land into Ireland.

Turning to amendment 3, I know that my colleagues and their constituents—indeed, all our constituents—feel strongly about supertrawlers. There is only one UK- registered vessel in the category of over 100 metres in length, but I recognise that there are considerable concerns, for example, about the Lithuanian registered vessel, the Margiris. The Fisheries Bill provides powers to attach conditions, such as the areas that can be fished and the type of fishing gear that can be used, to fishing vessel licences. Foreign vessels permitted to fish in UK waters will have to follow UK rules—including, of course, our conditions. When vessels do not comply with the conditions of their licences, action can be taken to restrict or prohibit their future activities.