Distribution of fishing opportunities

Part of Fisheries Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 3:45 pm on 13th December 2018.

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Photo of Peter Aldous Peter Aldous Conservative, Waveney 3:45 pm, 13th December 2018

I beg to move amendment 86, in clause 20, page 11, line 32, at end insert—

“3 The documents and evidence forming the basis for allocation decisions must be made available to the public within 20 days of the decision being made.”

The amendment would ensure that documents and evidence forming the basis of any allocation decisions must be made available to the public, so as to enhance accountability and transparency in the quota-setting process. Lack of such transparency has been a key issue with the current FQA situation under the CFP. Indeed, many urban myths have developed. Myths that certain football clubs and car manufacturers own fish quota have been doing the rounds for many years. The European Court of Auditors judged the FQA system as not being fit for purpose. It has led to the trading and renting out of quota at punitive and prohibitive prices, solely for profit and often at great cost to the inshore fleet.

Once environmental, social and economic criteria are established in law as the priority for determining future quota distribution, the environmental and social criteria should be identified, but transparently, by engaging public consultation at both national and regional levels. At a minimum, they should align with the definition of environmental in the Environmental Information Regulations 2004. Social criteria could include aiding new entrants to the industry; local landing based opportunities, both in ports and in processing factories; increased landings in ports; and enhancing local cultural identity and tourism.

One of the complaints about the current system of quota distribution has been about its opaque nature and the lack of transparency. This fairly simple amendment provides the opportunity to address that issue and overcome one of the handicaps of the system that we have had to deal with to date. In that context, I am of a mind to press the amendment to a vote, although I welcome the Minister’s comments.