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Amendment 29

Part of Fisheries Bill [HL] - Report (2nd Day) – in the House of Lords at 3:34 pm on 24th June 2020.

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Photo of Lord Teverson Lord Teverson Chair, EU Environment Sub-Committee, Chair, EU Environment Sub-Committee 3:34 pm, 24th June 2020

I will keep my remarks short. First, I remind the House that I have an interest as co-chair of the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Local Nature Partnership. Some years ago, I had the privilege of visiting New Zealand to meet fish companies and fleet operators there. Coming back to our debate on the previous amendment, the noble Lord, Lord Blencathra, and the noble and learned Lord, Lord Mackay, talked about efficiency and that sort of thing. If we want a really efficient fishing industry, we need completely transferable quotas, to get rid of the small vessel fleet altogether and to have large trawlers that are absolutely efficient. In New Zealand, three companies dominate the market outside recreational fisheries. They look after their fish stocks, and they keep an eye on each other. It is an incredibly efficient business, very profitable, very good for conservation—and zero coastal communities depended on fisheries. It was completely industrialised.

We can go down that route, or we can go down a much better route, which is to protect our coastal communities and have smaller new entrants being able to come into the fishing industry so that we have a much more diverse and locally important industry that supports not just our coastal communities but the whole food processing industry on a smaller scale as well. That is the right way to do it. The great thing about this amendment moved by the noble Lord, Lord Grantchester, is that it concentrates on those objectives and would achieve them. What we need are new entrants. The way into this business is so difficult at the moment because, although there are a number of non-quota species, the value is in those quotas and it is almost impossible to afford to buy your way into them. There is also the cost of the fishing vessel. That is why I am very supportive of this amendment.

Additionally, to be an entrant, you have to be in that under-10-metre sector. Although the vast majority of our fishing vessels are, I think they account for only a small proportion of the total quota. I give the Government credit—I have said this before—for trying to expand that percentage, but they were prevented by the courts at the time. Let us now make sure that that happens regularly. This is a very intelligent amendment in that it gives a good basis. It sets a baseline and then has an annual consideration, so it is completely practical. I cannot think of a better way for the Bill to promote real change in our coastal communities and our fishing industry than by doing those two things. A gradual increase in quota for under-10-metres does not have to be at the expense of any other sector because we are expecting, through our Brexit negotiations, to make sure that we have much larger quotas through being an independent coastal state. That will allow new members to rejuvenate this industry, which at the moment suffers from the fact that very few young entrants can come into the business to be the next generation who farm our seas.