Examination of Witness

Part of Fisheries Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 3:00 pm on 4th December 2018.

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Dr Appleby:

We reallocated quota last time—unused quota—without compensation or additional legislation, so I think we could do that. I think you have to be careful when you do that, because a lot of people borrow money by using their quota as collateral. One the one hand, there are some very rich people sitting on quota—the quota barons we read about—but on the other hand, there are people who use quota to support their running a business. You would need to think about what you will do, but I think you can do that under the current legislation.

What has happened here is that it has been beefed up. We have put some more suggestions forward. There are two things that you could do. You could vest the fishery so that it actually becomes public property. We have done a heck a lot of research at UWE on who owns it, and we reckon it was set up by some sort of implied Crown trust that goes back to the middle ages. One of my PhD students is working on this at the moment.

It would be easier just to state in the Bill that it is a public asset and put it in some sort of trust, and then you would get the kind of things that you would normally expect when disposing of a public asset to the commercial sector. That is the way I would approach it. I appreciate that we did not start there; we started with an open-access resource, which we have tried to deal with through legislation. We are in a transition.