Amendment 77A

Part of Fisheries Bill [HL] - Committee (3rd Day) – in the House of Lords at 4:00 pm on 9th March 2020.

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Photo of Lord Gardiner of Kimble Lord Gardiner of Kimble The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs 4:00 pm, 9th March 2020

No, I think I must make progress. My noble friend Lady McIntosh raised this issue but we understand there are no current proposals for a Scottish fisheries Bill. This Bill is designed to give all four Administrations the powers they need in the future, out of the common fisheries policy. This includes the powers to bring forward REM, if appropriate and after trials and consultation.

In England, trials into the use of REM for enforcement, as well as for other purposes, such as stock assessment, are ongoing. This point was referred to by the noble Baronesses, Lady Young of Old Scone and Lady Worthington. An example of this is the North Sea Fully Documented Fishery—FDF—scheme. The Fully Documented Fishery scheme employs REM systems on English-registered fishing vessels operating in the North Sea and is administered by the Marine Management Organisation. During 2019, 11 vessels participated in the scheme, receiving reserve quota as an incentive.

These trials provide valuable information not only about stocks and fishing methods, but about how to use and manage the large volumes of data gathered. As I have noted on a number of occasions, this method of piloting and evaluating is helpful in ensuring that we understand the impact of management methods. We need to understand exactly what fisheries information we could and should be collecting from REM, and, as highlighted, whether there are other technologies— I think the noble Lord, Lord Teverson, referred to this—that could achieve better results, in our view, before mandating a system that may not be fit for purpose in the future. Therefore, the Government feel it would be prudent to wait until we have the results from these trials before confirming our approach. There are also considerable costs in dealing with and processing the vast amount of information generated through REM. The balance the UK Government are trying to achieve is a proportionate and practical approach to monitoring and enforcement.

Technologies and their utility develop at pace and we do not think it appropriate to use primary legislation to prescribe the use of particular technologies. The Bill already contains powers which will enable the UK Government and future Governments, as well as the devolved Administrations, to make full use of technology in the future.

Clause 36(4)(h) and equivalent provisions—