New Clause 8 - Agency arrangements between sea fish licensing authorities

Part of Fisheries Bill [Lords] – in the House of Commons at 8:00 pm on 13th October 2020.

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Photo of Dave Doogan Dave Doogan Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Agriculture and Rural Affairs) 8:00 pm, 13th October 2020

I am very happy to follow Douglas Ross.

I am extremely fortunate to represent Angus, the garden of Scotland. Our bounty extends well beyond our exceptional farmland, over our cliffs, and into our abundant seas—the North sea. After all, we have in Arbroath the home of the Arbroath smokie—a taste sensation that I know for a fact the Minister regularly enjoys. Not only that, but in Ferryden and Arbroath harbours we have a thriving inshore fleet fishing creel for crab and lobsters primarily for the EU market. This is where my concern lies. The shellfish trade in Angus is an outstanding success story supporting many jobs and underpinning the thriving buzz in Arbroath and Ferryden harbours. These boats have little to gain from Brexit in their fishing operations, but much to lose if the Government will not or cannot secure a deal for unfettered and tariff- free access to their EU markets.

I remind Ministers that livelihoods and jobs depend on these last-minute negotiations, and fishing businesses, like any other, need clarity over future trading conditions. Even with a deal, fishermen from Angus exporting into the EU will be subject to a regime from 1 January that threatens cost and delay for their businesses. These burdens include the requirements for an export health certificate, a validated catch certificate sent to the importer hours before the lorry arrives, a storage document if the catch was stored, and a processing statement if the product has been treated. They must import their product through an EU border control post and the importer must be notified in advance of the arrival. Notification periods vary so they will need to check with the border control post in question to find out how much notice they can give.

This is a far cry from the seamless process undertaken currently by crews and hauliers supplying markets in the EU today. I seek the Minister’s assurance that due consideration will be given to those lorries loaded up with live catch from multiple vessels in respect of the effect of this new bureaucracy on my constituents in Angus.

There exists a seemingly simpler process for UK vessels landing directly into UK ports. They must land into a North East Atlantic Fisheries Commission-designated port with a prior notification form, a catch certificate and a pre-landing declaration. That is onerous, but not insurmountable. Direct landings into the EU should be seen as a sub-optimal opportunity. It seems clear that we need to secure as much value add in the commodification of marine product in Scotland, and the rest of the UK of course, as possible, thereby exporting a higher value product to market rather than exporting the unprocessed product to have the value added abroad. National landings will deliver that, and to that extent I have some sympathy with amendment 1 tabled by the shadow Minister, Stephanie Peacock. However, as she will be aware, it is England-only so I will be unable to support it. I encourage the Minister, if not in this iteration of the Bill then in future policy, to consider the ambition of a national landing requirement. I know that that is an important element that all devolved Administrations will be taking forward.

We heard the hon. Member for Moray speak at length about the importance of coastal communities and reversing the attrition that was wrought on them in recent decades. This is an element that we may seek to exploit to achieve that. Ridding our fishing fleets of the thoroughly discredited CFP will of course have an upside for crews and skippers, but we need to ensure that we are more ambitious than that. We need to maximise and disaggregate the dividend as far and as wide onshore as possible. To do so will benefit precisely those coastal communities that we have heard discussed earlier this evening, with consequential benefits to local services, driving greater investment through higher populations in rural schools, and increased use of transport and connectivity.

A new future based on zonal attachment holds much promise for our fleets and for the gross value of the industry going forward. This will do much to correct the basic fairness of access to marine harvest. We should feel duty bound to attach any new prosperity widely to coastal communities and exploit every opportunity to secure marketing, processing, fuel supplies, services, installation, plant sales and haulage jobs on these shores and in our coastal communities rather than elsewhere. This is not protectionism, it is pragmatism.

I understand very well the need to ensure the most profitable and expedient routes to market for crews, but let us be clear that the damage that Brexit will do to our broader economy and economic prosperity outside fishing will be severe and in so far as fishing will benefit from Brexit, the industry should maintain an obligation to support the onshore economy as much as possible in management, processing and the wider supply chain.