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Amendment 22

Part of Fisheries Bill [HL] - Report (2nd Day) – in the House of Lords at 2:15 pm on 24th June 2020.

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Photo of Baroness Ritchie of Downpatrick Baroness Ritchie of Downpatrick Non-affiliated 2:15 pm, 24th June 2020

My Lords, I will speak in support of the new clause proposed by the noble Baroness, Lady Jones of Whitchurch.

On Monday, I highlighted the need to regenerate our coastal communities, particularly our coastal fishing communities. I have some knowledge from Northern Ireland and from the County Down fishing ports. Two of the three ports are currently involved in regeneration plans and are awaiting communication from the Northern Ireland Executive about further funding provision to take those forward. Clearly, this amendment would strengthen that economic link, which is vital because much fish is caught there, as per the quota requirements. However, if this were permitted, it would ensure that those coastal communities would be revitalised, because there are jobs not only in the catching sector but in the processing sector, which is very much the lifeblood of those communities, which have been subjected to various fishing village initiatives over the last 25 years.

I have a little query. If I take the County Down fishing ports—I know that the Northern Ireland department is one of the authorities that would be consulted—and the pelagic trawlers, at present they cannot land any of their catches in those harbours, and in some cases they are not landing them in other UK ports, the Channel Islands, Guernsey or the Isle of Man, but in Norway and the Republic of Ireland. That is because the port depth does not enable the larger pelagic trawlers to do that. I am sure that that issue exists in other ports in the UK which require a revitalisation process in terms of new and improved infrastructure.

Might the Minister have a quiet word with his opposite number in the Northern Ireland Executive to, shall we say, chivvy along those proposals for regeneration to ensure that the fishing commitment, the landing obligation and—if this is permitted today—the national landing requirement can be activated and implemented? Of course, as the noble Baroness, Lady Jones, said, this is simply consultation at this stage. While this is a strong aspirational clause, I hope that it would be capable of implementation and enforcement.