Examination of Witness

Part of Fisheries Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 3:29 pm on 4th December 2018.

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Aaron Brown:

I am fully supportive of that. We have gone further and said 60%, and not just for landings. There is a huge benefit from that. Currently just now, the flagship problem that Britain has, after the Factortame case, is that under freedom of establishment and freedom of movement, any EU national could come in and buy up British entitlement. Obviously, with the British fleet struggling with so much loss of its own resources, and regulatory ineptitude, many family fishermen felt compelled to sell. That is huge problem just now as we see on the west coast, in Lochinver. I think it was £30 million of fish went through Lochinver and there was not a single indigenous fishing boat. That needs to be tightened up on. There is a huge benefit, not just to the fisherman and their communities, but also to processors and market share.

Norway’s crowning glory is not actually its fishing fleet. Norway’s crowning glory is its dominance in processing and marketing globally. That is something that Britain could equally compete in with the resource we have got. We would like to see 60% landings into the UK, sold and processed, because otherwise people will just put them on the back of a lorry and run them down the road. We want to see 60% beneficial ownership of any British vessel—that is no different from the other Nordic countries—to avoid foreign nationals or conglomerates buying out the UK fleet.

We would also like to see 60% British crew, but with a five-year or thereabouts dispensation for foreign crew, until we rebuild the future generation back into the industry to replace the one we have lost. The economic link absolutely needs to be there and we implore you to accept that that is an amendment that needs to go in. The Conservatives tried to do it in 1988 with the Merchant Shipping Act. I argue that if it is good enough for Mrs Thatcher, then it should be good enough for this Government as well.