Discard prevention charging schemes: supplementary provision

Part of Fisheries Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 4:45 pm on 17 December 2018.

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Photo of George Eustice George Eustice The Minister of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs 4:45, 17 December 2018

The shadow Minister makes an important point. As I have said all along, this Bill tries to sit within our somewhat complex devolution settlement. I will make two points. First, Scotland is facing exactly the same challenges that we in England are facing, with regard to making the discard ban work in practice as well as in theory. From discussions with officials, I am aware that the Scottish Government are interested in looking at a similar scheme for fishermen in Scotland. It may be that this is something we can work on together across the UK.

Secondly, to answer the hon. Gentleman’s specific point about how we would deal with catches, some of which might have been caught in Scotland and some of which might have been caught in England, we have quite a detailed system of catch reporting. They have to log catches. We have vessel monitoring systems so that we know where vessels are catching fish. We have trained operators in our control room in Newcastle who monitor fishing patterns and can identify suspicious behaviour, such as a fishing vessel fishing in one area and then driving around to pretend it has fished in another, and we have ways of reconciling fishermen’s landing records with their catch records to ensure that we can manage this as an England-only scheme, should that be necessary.