Only a few days to go: We’re raising £25,000 to keep TheyWorkForYou running and make sure people across the UK can hold their elected representatives to account.Donate to our crowdfunder
My Lords, we talked a lot about REM in Committee, and it remains the case that, as the noble Lord, Lord Teverson’s Select Committee report stated, without REM there will be no real way of establishing whether discards are still happening and whether catch limits are being observed. Universal REM would mean better data for fisheries management, as the noble Lord, Lord Cameron of Dillington, has just outlined—and of course, for enforcement.
At the moment about 60% of the UK’s shellfish stocks have unknown status, and not much is known about several vulnerable bycatch species. Enforcement is patchy, with the current at-sea inspections regarded as just bad luck by some operators, since less than 1% of trips are independently monitored. REM would vastly increase the level of enforcement in a cost-effective way.
In their response to the Committee’s report, the Government recognised the effectiveness of REM in monitoring fishing activity and bringing full compliance with the landing obligation. We know that many other countries have adopted or are adopting REM—New Zealand, British Columbia, part of the US—and in this post-Covid period of digital leaps forward, it seems sensible for us to adopt a modern methodology for the collection of data and for monitoring and enforcement. So let us just do it—and if it is for England only, let us still start there.