I think quite the contrary, because they do not co-ordinate with other adjacent EEZs. They account only for fisheries in our EEZs, not the rest of the circulation of those stocks. As they stand, they are substantially inferior—they are unable to carry out their mission. The one area where we can change this is remote electronic monitoring. That is one of the most important challenges. The Government believe in remote electronic monitoring in terms of making the discard ban effective and in terms of much better data, as the noble Lord, Lord Krebs, stresses far better in his amendment than I do in mine. I fully endorse what he is trying to do.
I have the privilege of chairing the House’s EU Energy and Environment Sub-Committee. We did two reports on the discard ban, and it was absolutely clear that the only way to ensure best data and the implementing of the discard ban was to use remote electronic monitoring.
Just over a year ago, when the ban was fulfilled after four years of inaction within the European Union and the common fisheries policy, I went to a conference in Copenhagen attended primarily by marine scientists and people very knowledgeable about fisheries management, rather than politicians or members of the Commission. It became clear that no other nation was really enforcing the discard ban, and that no one wanted to go first on the technology that worked—remote electronic monitoring. Now that, as the Government remind us so often, we are an independent coastal state, we have the ability to take control—we will have even more control from
My amendment—amendments tabled by others are certainly as good—says that within a limited period, we should apply this provision to the over 10-metre fleets and then consult on applying it to the 2% to 5% of quota and the under 10-metre fleets. Obviously, remote electronic monitoring might not be appropriate for local potting vessels, so consultation is needed. The technology already exists; it is cheap, it works and it will get even better thanks to machine learning. Within probably five years, it will not be necessary to complete log books because fish species can already be identified by quantity as they come on board.
These amendments would enable the Bill to make a real change to the marine environment, so that we as a nation and an independent coastal state can take a lead and make a difference to biodiversity and the sustainability of fish stocks. That is why I believe that this amendment, together with other amendments tabled by Members, are so important and should be pursued.