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:

That is an interesting question; theoretically, we cannot fish beyond MSY, because that is all we have. Under the United Nations convention on the law of the sea, our rights extend to MSY and that is it. You cannot have an agreement on what you do not have.

However, the question is: what is MSY? It comes down to the definition. The Norwegians would probably argue that, by taking a basket of different theories, we achieve MSY, because one stock can be plotted on a graph and another cannot. I am not a fisheries scientist—you would have to ask them—but it seems that you are essentially looking at something like a repairing obligation on a lease. How far can you go with this and do it in a sensible way?

The difficulty with going into, say, MSY or BMSY or all those things, which I have never completely got my head around, is that you define a particular scientific methodology in your Bill. I think that could come back to haunt the draftsman if stock does not behave in a certain way or if you want some sort of flexibility. Again, it is interesting that, coming from a conservation point of view with my Blue hat on, I am not uncomfortable with just leaving it at MSY.