Amendment 81

Part of Fisheries Bill [HL] - Committee (3rd Day) (Continued) – in the House of Lords at 4:42 pm on 9th March 2020.

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Photo of Baroness Bloomfield of Hinton Waldrist Baroness Bloomfield of Hinton Waldrist Baroness in Waiting (HM Household) (Whip) 4:42 pm, 9th March 2020

I am grateful to noble Lords for this short debate, particularly to the noble Lord, Lord Teverson. He is right to emphasise the need for proper safety regulations for all vessels fishing in our waters.

Amendment 81 seeks to ensure that all vessels, regardless of nationality, follow the same technical conservation measures when operating in UK waters. Schedule 2 to the Bill extends domestic legislation containing technical measures, such as restrictions on the size of velvet crab that can be caught, to foreign vessels. Under the common fisheries policy, this legislation has been able to apply only to British boats, so this change provides for the first time the level playing field between British and foreign vessels sought by the noble Lord, Lord Grantchester. Further, Schedule 3 provides the powers to set conditions on licences and to extend those conditions so that they also apply to foreign vessels. I make it clear that our intent is to ensure that equitable approaches for licence conditions apply to both domestic and foreign boats in the future.

This amendment seeks to mandate additional licensing criteria for foreign vessels. We regard this as unnecessary, as measures to achieve equitable treatment are already provided for by the Bill.

Finally, the amendment does not take into account the devolved competence of the fisheries administrations to set their own licence conditions in their waters, where they do not conflict with delivering what has been agreed internationally.

Amendment 82 seeks to address two very serious issues. As my noble friend the Minister noted in his opening speech at Second Reading, and as we have discussed previously in Committee, fishing remains one of the most dangerous occupations. I regret that too many deaths and injuries still occur in our waters. However, safety at sea—for all vessels, not just fishing boats—falls within the remit of the Maritime and Coastguard Agency—the MCA—which has powers to enforce safety regulation.

Under the Fishing Vessel (Codes of Practice) Regulations 2017, a non-UK fishing vessel must not enter UK waters unless,

“if its registered length is 24 metres or over, it has been certified by its flag State as complying with the requirements of the Torremolinos Protocol” on the safety of fishing vessels,

“or … if its registered length is less than 24 metres, it has been certified by its flag State as complying with the requirements of that State applying to vessels of that length”.

If a foreign vessel does not comply with these requirements in the future, it will not be granted a licence to fish in UK waters.

The MCA is also working to implement the International Labour Organization’s work in fishing convention into UK law. Its aims are for all fishermen to have decent living and working conditions, regardless of employment status. It entitles all fishermen to written terms and conditions of employment, decent accommodation and food, medical care, regulated working time, regular payment, repatriation, social protection, and health and safety onboard. It also provides minimum standards relating to medical fitness.

Lastly, I note that the noble Lord, Lord Cameron of Dillington, mentioned discards and European law. This will be covered at a later stage.

With this explanation, I hope that the noble Lord, Lord Teverson, will feel able to withdraw his amendment.