Amendment 76ZA

Part of Fisheries Bill [HL] - Committee (3rd Day) – in the House of Lords at 3:15 pm on 9th March 2020.

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Photo of Lord Teverson Lord Teverson Chair, EU Energy and Environment Sub-Committee, Chair, EU Energy and Environment Sub-Committee 3:15 pm, 9th March 2020

My Lords, I shall speak to my own amendments in this group–Amendments 76A and 79. One of the characteristics of this Bill is that we start to talk about recreational fishing, which is an important leisure activity—not one I indulge in myself, but one I would certainly encourage.

However, there is a big difference between someone going out in their own unpowered vessel and the charter recreational sector, which could have a significant impact on local fisheries. In a way, this is a probing amendment to better understand the Government’s view on the recreational side, but there is a strong argument that charter vessels should be licensed. They are quite substantial, have a number of people on board who are fishing recreationally, and they may be targeting certain fisheries which are significant in terms of environment and biodiversity. Although this amendment does not cover it, there might be an argument that, now that Defra has invented the very simple catch app—controversial in certain areas, but I think it is a pretty good idea—we could easily use that for this type of fishing, as that would give extra information about the types of fish that are being caught and landed in the recreational sector.

My second amendment looks at the area of capacity. It has been mentioned by many noble Lords during Second Reading that the British fleet has gone down and down in size. Of course, the prime reason for that is that the efficiency of fishing vessels has increased hugely over recent decades, so you need much fewer vessels due to their power, fishing techniques, electronics, sonar and engine power. All of those features have led to a reduction in the fleet. In the past, we have had to have decommissioning schemes to equate fishing fleet levels with available stocks. They are never the best things to do, but sometimes they are necessary.

I am trying to find out how the Government expect the capacity of the fleet to be managed. I would be interested in the Minister’s comments and he may well be able to reassure me in this area. My amendment says that there should be no additional licences granted if there is already a sufficient capacity for the fishing stocks available for the total allowable catch. We know from history that a mismatch in that area, whatever the rest of the regulations are, is highly negative to sustainability.