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Distribution of fishing opportunities

Part of Fisheries Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 3:00 pm on 13th December 2018.

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Photo of Luke Pollard Luke Pollard Shadow Minister (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) (Fisheries, Flooding and Water) 3:00 pm, 13th December 2018

I am sure it will come as no surprise to members of the Committee that I agree with the hon. Member for Waveney on the amendment. When we considered amendments to clause 1, we spoke about fish being a public good. It is no surprise that fish is still a public good, and that should still be in the Bill. The White Paper states:

“We aim to manage these fisheries—and the wider marine environment—as a shared resource, a public asset held in stewardship for the benefit of all.”

That is the right objective, but it needs to be in the Bill.

The amendment gives the Minister a chance to do the right thing and include fish as a public asset for the benefit of all. The opportunity here is to be clear about the tone. In previous remarks, the Minister said that putting fish as a public good or a public asset in the Bill was unnecessary because it was already a de facto position, just as Parliament is sovereign. The argument about whether Parliament is sovereign is an argument because there are differing opinions on it, as we have seen in particular in the past fortnight. Just as the Minister has sought to mirror sections in other legislation, which he mentioned earlier, it would do no harm—I think it would be of huge benefit—if it were clear in the Bill that fish is a public good. I would have preferred that to be right up front, in the objectives in clause 1, but the hon. Gentleman is attempting to get it in at clause 20. That would be a good amendment and it is one that the Opposition will support.