Amendment 94

Part of Fisheries Bill [HL] - Committee (3rd Day) (Continued) – in the House of Lords at 7:15 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) 7:15 pm, 9th March 2020

I shall write to the noble Baroness on that detailed point.

On Amendment 106, which addresses new entrants, we are aware of concerns about shortages in crew and an ageing demographic within the fishing industry. The average age of fishers in the UK is 42. To address this in England, we are working closely with the Seafood Industry Leadership Group, whose work has highlighted the importance to a thriving seafood industry of training, skills development and workforce retention. I take on board the suggestion of the noble Lord, Lord Cameron, on apprenticeship training, which is very much in line with our own intentions. A number of fishing organisations have tried to develop schemes for new entrants, and apprenticeships. They have had varying degrees of success and many lessons have been learned. It is not easy, but it does not mean that fishing organisations should not continue to try. We must also ensure that there are fish for new entrants to catch, which means balancing the environmental, social and economic objectives.

We are also looking at examples from around the world, such as the Faroes, Scandinavia, Jersey and Guernsey, to identify options to support the UK fleet now and to ensure that it has the labour force necessary for its long-term future. To ensure certainty and stability for the UK fishing industry, after discussions with industry and, as stated in the fisheries White Paper, we took the decision not to overhaul the current system of allocation for existing quota. Quota for new entrants could, therefore, be set aside only from increased fishing opportunities gained through negotiations. Part of the work that we are undertaking with industry and other stakeholders this year will include consideration of the option of using additional quota to support new entrants. We have the powers to do this.

Ensuring that fishers can fish sustainably will be an important aspect of the considerations for allocations. The amendment does not refer to any sustainability criteria and could therefore ultimately restrict our ability to set a gold standard for sustainable fishing. I have been advised that there are, regretfully, a number of other practical issues with the amendment as drafted. It is not clear which quota this allocation should be made from: the UK, English, existing or new. Further, it is not clear for how long a new entrant could keep the quota. If it is for the entire career of the fisherman, provided they continue to fish it, the requirement to always have a proportion available for new entrants could mean taking quota from existing fishermen. With this explanation, I hope that the noble Lord will feel able to withdraw his amendment.