I welcome the package of three consultations launched by DEFRA today. The first is on strengthening the economic link for English licensed fishing vessels, to help ensure economic benefits for many of our coastal communities, including plans for an increased landing requirement of up to 70%. That is very welcome news for many people in North Cornwall. The second consultation is on proposals for how the new fishing opportunities that the UK secures in negotiations will be split between Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and England in a way that is fairer and much more profitable for fishing communities across our four nations. Finally, I congratulate the Department on its proposals for how England’s share of those new opportunities will be distributed across communities. I hope that we will see greater benefits for many of our coastal communities and our hard-working fishermen and fisherwomen.
Concerns have been raised over the past few weeks that the scallop wars we saw a couple of years back in the English channel seem to be resurfacing, with many of our boats being targeted by the French. There is concern in the fishing community in Cornwall that, as we get to the crunch point in negotiations, much of their gear might be towed off and dragged due to the realisation that, if we do not reach a deal, there might be challenges for some continental fishermen.
Finally—it would not be a fisheries debate if I did not mention it—I want to talk about recreational angling. I know that I probably bore the Minister when I talk about this, and I promise that I will not talk specifically about bluefin tuna, although the conversation we had with the shadow Secretary of State on that recently was very productive; I am hopeful that we might reach a point where we have a catch-and-release bluefin tuna fishery around the coast of the country. I am grateful for the work that DEFRA is doing with the Angling Trust on developing a vision statement for recreational angling in the UK. The Minister will know that I have an ambition to create a world-class fishery and wide recreational opportunity for fishing off the north Cornwall coast. I look forward to working with her on the vision statement. Can she confirm that the statement will include policies that further support the interests of the UK recreational sector?
It is a pleasure to be in the House on this historic night. I have heard on many doorsteps in North Cornwall that we need to repatriate our territorial fishing waters, which were slayed on the altar as we entered the European Union. It is a pleasure to be here this evening to give a green light to the great opportunities that are coming to coastal communities. I ask the Government to continue to be robust in the negotiations, and they will continue to have my full support.