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 Grantchester Lord Grantchester Opposition Whip (Lords), Shadow Spokesperson (Energy and Climate Change), Shadow Minister (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs), Shadow Spokesperson (Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy) 3:15 pm, 9th March 2020

I will speak to Amendments 85 and 87 in my name, tabled for probing purposes. Amendment 85 concerns conditions being imposed on sea fishing licences regarding matters that are not themselves directly related to the regulation of sea fishing. I am sure there will be a number of examples of conditions that it would be both logical and reasonable to impose, and I would be grateful if the Minister could clarify for the record what these include.

Amendment 87 deals with the duty of a sea fish licensing authority to comply or not with a request submitted by another licensing authority. In paragraph 4(3) of Schedule 3, there is an exemption to the statutory duty to comply:

“unless … it is unreasonable to do so.”

This amendment merely seeks clarity from the Minister to highlight the designation between reasonable and unreasonable, as presumably the requesting authority may consider the request entirely reasonable. What steps must a fish licensing authority take when a request is denied, and is that the end of the matter? Would the licensing authority need to justify that denial and, if so, is there a timetable for this, should the requesting authority wish to follow up?

I turn now to other amendments in this group. Amendment 76ZA in the name of the noble Baroness, Lady McIntosh of Pickering, brings into focus in my mind the interplay between farmed salmon, which is not regulated in this legislation, and the Fisheries Bill. The Norwegian Government believe that farmed salmon escapes are the biggest threat to Norway’s wild salmon population. The Scottish Government are certainly aware of the significant risk to the vital recovery of remaining west coast salmon stocks. Experts estimate that the number of escapes—often laden with disease, especially lice burdens—is around double the number of wild Atlantic salmon that return to their spawning rivers on the west coast of Scotland. During Storm Brendan in January, around 73,000 farmed salmon escaped from the open-net cage near Colonsay. I draw attention to the considerable effect this may have on west coast fisheries.

I also thank the noble Lord, Lord Teverson, for his amendments in this group. In Amendment 76A, he poses the question of whether the recreational use of a charter fishing vessel requires a full licence and in what circumstances. Would the planned exemption for recreational activities still stand? The Committee has welcomed the previous positive comments from the Minister about recreational fishing. Indeed, my comments on salmon are apposite. It is an often overlooked yet important part of our fisheries industry, reported to be valued at over £2 billion annually and supporting more than 18,000 jobs. I am grateful to David Mitchell at the Angling Trust for making contact regarding the size of recreational fishing and the economic impact it has. This merits some attention.

Finally, I thank the noble Duke, the Duke of Montrose, for his careful scrutiny of the provisions under Schedule 3, seeking clarity on the balance and pertinence of information required by a licensing authority.