New Clause 8 - Agency arrangements between sea fish licensing authorities

Part of Fisheries Bill [Lords] – in the House of Commons at 7:00 pm on 13th October 2020.

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Photo of Sheryll Murray Sheryll Murray Conservative, South East Cornwall 7:00 pm, 13th October 2020

No, I will not. Other people want to speak.

Other new clauses have been tabled by Mr Carmichael. I apologise for speaking to them before he has done so, but he is after me on the call list. I know he is well intentioned, given his interest in promoting safety aboard fishing vessels. He has been a strong voice for fishing safety for many years. Owners of UK-flagged fishing vessels are responsible for basic health and safety on board their boats, safe working practices and safe equipment. The Merchant Shipping and Fishing Vessels (Health and Safety at Work) Regulations 1997 include measures to encourage improvement in safety and health of workers at sea. As far as I understand it—the Minister will correct me if I have got this wrong—licensing will be able to control the terms on which vessels from other member states, or other nations, because there will not be member states as far as we are concerned, can access the UK 200-mile or median line limit. It will also ensure that the boats that fish in those waters are responsible, as is the behaviour of the skippers and crew of those vessels.

The amendments tabled by the right hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland are really well intentioned, but I will not be able to support them, because we already have such provisions in place. The Bill provides the structure for the UK to manage fisheries responsibly after we have restored control over our 200-mile or median line limit—our exclusive economic zone. As someone who has suffered the direct consequence of a fatal accident at sea, and who, as a result, has a real interest in fishing vessel safety, I gently say to him that I do not believe that this is the right place for his amendments; perhaps he would like not to move them this evening.

I turn to the official Opposition’s amendments. The National Federation of Fishermen’s Organisations says:

“The NFFO supports the sustainability objective” but believes that this should not be given

“primacy…over all other fisheries objectives”,

as this would be

“a fundamental impediment to practical and effective fisheries management.”

Paul Trebilcock from the Cornish Fish Producers Organisation says that

“our fishermen have no interest in bankrupting the fish stocks upon which the next generation will depend. As an industry, we have been proactive in seeking a Bill that recognises the real demands of modern fisheries management. This includes supporting conservation priorities such as bycatch reduction and managing stocks under climate change, as well as advocating for a system that can allow for the flexibility and adaptations required to deliver on these goals.”

The NFFO believes that a national landing requirement, although well intentioned, would cut across the ability of fishing vessels to land on to the most profitable market, and potentially generate unintended consequences. It welcomes the Government’s commitment to launch a consultation reviewing the economic link conditions. I genuinely feel that British fishermen will want us to ensure that the flagships that were allowed to stay on the British fishing vessel register through the Factortame case are gradually removed.

Industry representatives have welcomed the removal in Committee of the amendments made to this Bill in the other place. I am pleased that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State has agreed to consult on these matters, as it will enable genuine fishermen to give their views. I urge this House to reject these amendments in any vote tonight. Although well intentioned, they were introduced in the other place and the fishermen felt that they were unnecessary.

I look forward to the moment when we take back control of UK waters, for which I have been campaigning for almost 40 years—and, yes, I am an old lady. I pay tribute to the late Tom Hay and John Ashworth, who campaigned alongside me at that time, as well as David Pessell from Plymouth Trawler Agents and his wife Alison. I genuinely believe that the future is bright for the fishing industry that I have been so close to for many years.

I urge our negotiators again—as I did on Second Reading—to hold firm in the negotiations. We must not accept anything less than annual negotiations and priority access to fish for our fishermen. I would like to point out that what people tend to misconvey when they talk about what was reported in the press as three years’ transition is the period of reducing quotas for other member states and gradually increasing quotas for UK fishermen. That is an important fact that I think the hon. Member for Edinburgh North and Leith selectively missed out.

I had the privilege of naming the first electric passenger vessel, e-Voyager, in my local boatyard yesterday. The owner of Plymouth Boat Trips started out more than 20 years ago as Fish ‘N’ Trips, a small business founded on a lifelong passion for fishing. His name is Ben Squire, and with a £1,000 loan and a £500 grant from the Prince’s Trust, at the age of 21, Ben purchased a boat and took the first mackerel and deep sea fishing trips from Plymouth. He now has a sizeable fleet of fishing boats and passenger vessels. I look forward to the future for this great UK-wide industry, and I hope to see many more people like Ben proudly taking the fishing industry from strength to strength in the years to come.