Schedule 2 - Regulation of Foreigh Fishing Boats

Fisheries Bill [Lords] – in a Public Bill Committee at 11:30 am on 10th September 2020.

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Photo of Victoria Prentis Victoria Prentis The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs 11:30 am, 10th September 2020

I beg to move amendment 11, in schedule 2, page 42, line 38, leave out from “crabs)”, to end of line 1 on page 43 and insert

“, in paragraph (2), after “foreign fishing boats” insert “of sea fish caught in waters lying outside British fishery limits”.”

This amendment exempts foreign vessels from restrictions in the Undersized Velvet Crabs Order 1989 in relation to fish caught outside British fishery limits.

Photo of Steve McCabe Steve McCabe Labour, Birmingham, Selly Oak

With this it will be convenient to discuss Government amendments 12 to 16, 18, 22 and 23.

Photo of Victoria Prentis Victoria Prentis The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

These are very technical amendments, and it is difficult to get our order and our arguments in the same place. Amendments 11 to 16 make changes to paragraph (2) of schedule 2, which amends the Undersized Velvet Crabs Order 1989 and indeed extends it to foreign vessels, in answer to the hon. Gentleman’s question. The amendments remove unnecessary references to Scottish fishing boats, so that the order applies effectively to Northern Ireland. The amendments also ensure that the restrictions in the order do not apply to foreign vessels when they catch fish outside British fishery limits.

Similarly, amendment 18 exempts foreign vessels from restrictions in the Lobsters and Crawfish (Prohibition of Fishing and Landing) Order 2000 in relation to fish caught outside British fishery limits. Amendments 22 and 23 just remove some superfluous words in relation to that. I therefore commend the amendments to the Committee.

Photo of Luke Pollard Luke Pollard Shadow Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

I am grateful to the Minister for setting that out. For the sake of clarity, the Undersized Velvet Crabs Order 1989 was not previously on my reading list; however, it was yesterday. I am grateful to those people who got in touch asking whether this would put further pressure on those species. From my understanding of what the Minister has just said, it does not relate to any further risk to the stock levels; it relates only to access. I am grateful for what she has said on that.

Amendment 11 agreed to.

Amendments made: 12, in schedule 2, page 43, line 2, leave out, from “crabs)” to end of line 4 and insert

“, in paragraph (2), after ‘foreign fishing boats’ insert ‘and were caught in waters lying outside British fishery limits’.”

This amendment exempts foreign vessels from restrictions in the Undersized Velvet Crabs Order 1989 in relation to fish caught outside British fishery limits.

Amendment 13, in schedule 2, page 43, line 13, leave out “Scottish or”.

This amendment removes Scottish fishing boats from the scope of article 4 of the Undersized Velvet Crabs Order 1989 (which imposes a minimum size for carriage of velvet crabs in the English zone).

Amendment 14, in schedule 2, page 43, line 13, leave out “or a foreign vessel”.

This amendment exempts foreign vessels from restrictions in the Undersized Velvet Crabs Order 1989 in relation to fish caught outside British fishery limits.

Amendment 15, in schedule 2, page 43, line 16, at end insert—

“(4) A foreign vessel is prohibited from carrying in the English zone velvet crab that were caught in waters lying within British fishery limits and are below the minimum size mentioned in sub-paragraph (1).”

This amendment exempts foreign vessels from restrictions in the Undersized Velvet Crabs Order 1989 in relation to fish caught outside British fishery limits.

Amendment 16, in schedule 2, page 43, line 23, leave out “Scottish or”.—(Victoria Prentis.)

This amendment removes Scottish fishing boats from the scope of article 4 of the Undersized Velvet Crabs Order 1989 (which imposes a minimum size for carriage of velvet crabs in the English zone).

Photo of Victoria Prentis Victoria Prentis The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

I beg to move amendment 17, in schedule 2, page 43, line 29, at end insert—

“(5A) After article 4 insert—

‘Fishing by Faroe Islands-licensed foreign vessels

4A (1) Nothing in article 2, 3 or 4 applies in relation to fish that were caught by a Faroe Islands-licensed foreign vessel in waters lying within the Special Area unless, at the time they were

(2) In this article the following expressions have the same meaning as in section 16 of the Fisheries Act 2020—

‘Faroe Islands-licensed’;

‘the Special Area’.”

This amendment exempts foreign vessels from certain provisions of the Undersized Velvet Crabs Order 1989 where they are fishing in the Special Area and have a Faroe Islands licence. This is in order to comply with the treaty entered into with Denmark in 1999 on maritime delimitation in the area between the United Kingdom and the Faroe Islands.

Photo of Steve McCabe Steve McCabe Labour, Birmingham, Selly Oak

With this it will be convenient to discuss Government amendments 19 to 21, 24 to 26, 3 and 4.

Photo of Victoria Prentis Victoria Prentis The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

These amendments are necessary to ensure that we comply with the provisions of the treaty entered into with Denmark in 1999. The treaty concerns maritime delimitation between the UK and the Faroe Islands. The 1999 agreement, or for the purposes of the Bill the Faroe Islands treaty, provides for a special area in the UK exclusive economic zone, exclusively in Scottish waters, over which both parties exercise jurisdiction for fisheries management purposes. A bespoke approach is required to manage that shared area in the right way.

The amendments provide the legal framework for who is able to regulate fishing in that special area from 1 January. They provide the Faroese authorities with the ability to license foreign vessels in that area, as well as providing the option for the appropriate UK licensing authority to license foreign vessels if that is required. Were the amendments not made, we would not be able to implement the Faroe Islands treaty, which might put us in breach of our international obligations. The amendments to schedule 2 exempt vessels licensed by the Faroe Islands fishing in a special area from some secondary legislation that is applicable in Scottish waters.

This is a technical area. We make the amendments in the knowledge that we have a very positive relationship with the Faroe Islands on fisheries management, and we remain committed to collectively improving the way the sea is managed and governed. Indeed, it is through our working on a new future fisheries agreement with the Faroe Islands throughout this year that we have been able to agree the approach to this issue.

Photo of Robert Goodwill Robert Goodwill Conservative, Scarborough and Whitby 11:45 am, 10th September 2020

Would my hon. Friend further agree that the Faroe Islands are an exemplar of how to maintain a sustainable fishery, using technology such as long lining, for example?

Photo of Victoria Prentis Victoria Prentis The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

I am very happy to agree with the former fisheries Minister on this point. I know he did a great deal of work with the Faroe Islands, and we have had a very constructive working relationship with them throughout the course of this year. The issue has now been resolved properly, as it should be, in the Bill.

International negotiations are reserved but implementing international agreements, for example by licensing fishing boats, is a devolved matter, so this is a complex area to legislate for. We have worked very closely with our Scottish Government colleagues, who I would like to thank, and colleagues across Government, to come to an agreed approach that respects both reserved and devolved competences. I am grateful that Scottish Ministers were prepared to and will play an active role in the delivery of this amendment. I commend the amendment to the Committee.

Photo of Luke Pollard Luke Pollard Shadow Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

I welcome the Government legislating to comply with international treaties, which I am sure the Minister will agree with—I know she is a fond supporter of the rule of law. Until very recently, I did not think that complying with international law or international treaties was a point of contention in this House, but perhaps I am just being old-fashioned in that respect.

We support the amendments to comply with the 1999 agreement with Denmark and the Faroe Islands—that was something else I did not expect to have on my reading list last night, but none the less a thrilling treaty to have a read of. We think there should be no question when it comes to complying with international law, so we support the amendments, but I would like to press the Minister slightly on one aspect.

The Minister will know that when the 200-metre EEZ became the norm, the UK and Denmark on behalf of the Faroes sought to delimit their maritime zones. However, they disagreed at the time on the method and that produced areas of overlap. Those grey areas or special zones, which the Minister referred to in her remarks, are basically a no man’s water subject to special provisions.

For fishing in the special zones, each country can fish and regulate its own vessels. As the Faroes are not in the EU, the measure has not had much impact to date. However, it does now, potentially. As the Minister will no doubt be aware, we are seeing an increase in RIG activity—that is, Russia, Iceland and Greenland—in the areas around the Faroe Islands and the surrounding high seas. The RIG countries are not signatories to the sharing of coastal states agreements, in particular the North East Atlantic Fisheries Commission. I would be grateful if the Minister could offer some clarity on whether the measure only applies to Faroese boats and not those from Russia, Iceland and Greenland—countries that the Faroe Islands may grant permissions to fish. How does that apply to the approach the Government are taking?

The stocks in this zone are big business and I am anxious to ensure that we are not leaving a back door here for fishing in this joint area to become over-exploited by others under Faroese permissions. It is of particular importance that we safeguard our distant water fleets. I do not want to see British fishers undermined in this way. I would be grateful if the Minister could set out some clarity, in particular in relation to RIG activity.

Photo of Victoria Prentis Victoria Prentis The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

This is a highly technical area, and while the hon. Gentleman was kind enough to mention my legal background, I am not sure that I am able to provide him with a complete answer now. I am going to try, but I would like to caveat that, as all experienced lawyers would, with the fact that I will write to him afterwards if I am found to have been wrong.

It is interesting that this special area is quite a unique legal entity. The conflict with the licensing provisions already in the Bill had not come to light until it got to the point of negotiations with the Faroe Islands, when it became clear that there might be some points of conflict.

The 1999 treaty permits either party to license foreign vessels, so both the Faroe Islands and the UK authorities —in this case, the Scottish Government—are able to do that. I think that probably answers the hon. Gentleman’s concerns. That certainly does not mean that there are no rules in this area of the sea. Many of the licence conditions will be very similar for whichever party issues the licence, and the UK will of course still exercise standard controls and enforcement in the area. Both parties already have a commitment in the 1999 treaty, I believe, to co-operate on marine protection measures, which will further preserve this area. I feel that that is probably an answer to the hon. Gentleman’s question, but if there is more to say, I will say it to him in writing.

Photo of Luke Pollard Luke Pollard Shadow Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

I am grateful to the Minister, and I appreciate that this is a very difficult area. My key concern is about overfishing. From what I gather from the Minister, because the UK and Faroese fisheries authorities will be issuing licences, that would include RIG activity within those waters. Is her understanding that there is sufficient data transfer between those two licences and a scientific basis to ensure that those waters are being fished sustainably?

Photo of Victoria Prentis Victoria Prentis The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

That is what I believe to be the case, but I want to check that. This special marine area is a fascinating area of law. I cannot pretend that I know all the answers at the moment, so I will get back to the hon. Gentleman if I have told him the wrong thing. Otherwise, we will leave it as stated.

Amendment 17 agreed to.

Amendments made: 18, in schedule 2, page 44, line 19, leave out from “prohibition)” to end of line 20 and insert—

(a) in paragraph (1) omit “wherever caught”;

(b) in paragraph (2), after “applies” insert “(wherever caught)”;

(c) after paragraph (2) insert—

“(3) The landing in England or Northern Ireland from a foreign fishing boat of any sea fish to which this article applies that were caught in waters lying within British fishery limits is prohibited.””

This amendment exempts foreign vessels from restrictions in the Lobsters and Crawfish (Prohibition of Fishing and Landing) Order 2000 in relation to fish caught outside British fishery limits.

Amendment 19, in schedule 2, page 44, line 22, at end insert—

‘(4A) After article 4A insert—

“Fishing by Faroe Islands-licensed foreign fishing boats

4B (1) Nothing in article 3(2) or 4A(1) (fishing prohibition) applies in relation to fishing at any time by a Faroe Islands-licensed foreign fishing boat in waters lying within the Special Area unless, at that time, the fishing boat was included in the list maintained and published by the Scottish Ministers for the purposes of section 16(2A) of the Fisheries Act 2020.

(2) Nothing in article 4(3) (landing prohibition) applies in relation to fish that were caught by a Faroe Islands-licensed foreign fishing boat in waters lying within the Special Area unless, at the time they were caught, the fishing boat was included in the list maintained and published by the Scottish Ministers for the purposes of section 16(2A) of the Fisheries Act 2020.

(3) In this article the following expressions have the same meaning as in section 16 of the Fisheries Act 2020—

“Faroe Islands-licensed”;

“the Special Area”.”

This amendment exempts foreign fishing boats from certain provisions of the Lobsters and Crawfish (Prohibition of Fishing and Landing) Order 2000 where they are fishing in the Special Area and have a Faroe Islands licence. This is in order to comply with the treaty entered into with Denmark in 1999 on maritime delimitation in the area between the United Kingdom and the Faroe Islands.

Amendment 20, in schedule 2, page 44, line 36, at end insert—

‘(3A) After article 4 insert—

“Fishing by Faroe Islands-licensed foreign fishing boats

4A (1) Nothing in article 4 (landing prohibition) applies in relation to fish that were caught by a Faroe Islands-licensed foreign fishing boat in waters lying within the Special Area unless, at the time they were caught, the fishing boat was included in the list maintained and published by the Scottish Ministers for the purposes of section 16(2A) of the Fisheries Act 2020.

(2) In this article the following expressions have the same meaning as in section 16 of the Fisheries Act 2020—

“Faroe Islands-licensed”;

“the Special Area”.”

This amendment exempts foreign fishing boats from certain provisions of the Undersized Edible Crabs Order 2000 where they are fishing in the Special Area and have a Faroe Islands licence. This is in order to comply with the treaty entered into with Denmark in 1999 on maritime delimitation in the area between the United Kingdom and the Faroe Islands.

Amendment 21, in schedule 2, page 45, line 13, at end insert—

‘(2A) In article 3, in paragraph (3), at the end of sub-paragraph (c) insert “; or

(d) carried in, or used by, a Faroe Islands-licensed foreign fishing boat for the purpose of fishing in waters lying within the Special Area unless the fishing boat is, at the time it is so carried or used, included in the list maintained and published by the Scottish Ministers for the purposes of section16(2A) of the Fisheries Act 2020.”

(2B) In article 3, after paragraph (3) insert—

“(4) In this article the following expressions have the same meaning as in section 16 of the Fisheries Act 2020—

“Faroe Islands-licensed”;

“the Special Area”.”

This amendment exempts foreign fishing boats from certain provisions of the Sea Fish (Specified Sea Areas) (Regulation of Nets and other Fishing Gear) Order 2001 where they are fishing in the Special Area and have a Faroe Islands licence. This is in order to comply with the treaty entered into with Denmark in 1999 on maritime delimitation in the area between the United Kingdom and the Faroe Islands.

Amendment 22, in schedule 2, page 45, line 16, leave out “in relation to”

This is a minor amendment removing superfluous wording.

Amendment 23, in schedule 2, page 45, line 19, leave out “in relation to”

This is a minor amendment removing superfluous wording.

Amendment 24, in schedule 2, page 45, line 26, at end insert—

‘(2A) In article 3, in paragraph (2), at the end of sub-paragraph (c) insert—

“(d) to fishing at any time by a Faroe Islands-licensed foreign fishing boat in waters lying within the Special Area unless the fishing boat is, at that time, included

(2B) In article 3, after paragraph (2) insert—

“(3) In this article the following expressions have the same meaning as in section 16 of the Fisheries Act 2020—

“Faroe Islands-licensed”;

“the Special Area”.”

This amendment exempts foreign fishing boats from certain provisions of the Prohibition of Fishing with Multiple Trawls Order 2001 where they are fishing in the Special Area and have a Faroe Islands licence. This is in order to comply with the treaty entered into with Denmark in 1999 on maritime delimitation in the area between the United Kingdom and the Faroe Islands.

Amendment 25, in schedule 2, page 46, line 11, at end insert “, or

(d) a foreign fishing boat outside British fishery limits.

‘(4) The prohibition in this article does not apply in relation to a net carried in, or deployed by, a Faroe Islands-licensed foreign fishing boat for the purpose of fishing in waters lying within the Special Area unless the fishing boat is, at the time it is so carried or deployed, included in the list maintained and published by the Scottish Ministers for the purposes of section 16(2A) of the Fisheries Act 2020.

(5) In this article the following expressions have the same meaning as in section 16 of the Fisheries Act 2020—

“Faroe Islands-licensed”;

“the Special Area”.”

This amendment exempts foreign fishing boats from certain provisions of the Shrimp Fishing Nets Order 2002 where they are fishing in the Special Area and have a Faroe Islands licence. This is in order to comply with the treaty entered into with Denmark in 1999 on maritime delimitation in the area between the United Kingdom and the Faroe Islands. The amendment also clarifies that the Order only applies to foreign fishing boats when they are within British fishery limits.

Amendment 26, in schedule 2,page 46, line 34, at end insert—

‘(2A) In article 3, in paragraph (2), at the end of sub-paragraph (c) insert “, or

(d) to fishing at any time by a Faroe Islands-licensed foreign fishing boat in waters lying within the Special Area unless the fishing boat is, at that time, included in the list maintained and published by the Scottish Ministers for the purposes of section16(2A) of the Fisheries Act 2020.”

(2B) In article 3, after paragraph (2) insert—

“(3) In this article the following expressions have the same meaning as in section 16 of the Fisheries Act 2020—

“Faroe Islands-licensed”;

“the Special Area”.” —(Victoria Prentis.)

This amendment exempts foreign fishing boats from certain provisions of the Prohibition of Fishing with Multiple Trawls Order 2003 where they are fishing in the Special Area and have a Faroe Islands licence. This is in order to comply with the treaty entered into with Denmark in 1999 on maritime delimitation in the area between the United Kingdom and the Faroe Islands.

Question proposed, That the schedule, as amended, be the Second schedule to the Bill.

Photo of Victoria Prentis Victoria Prentis The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

This schedule amends a wide range of secondary legislation, covering issues such as prohibitions on fishing at certain times of the year, rules on gears that may be used in certain fisheries, and a prohibition on catches of certain species that currently applies only to UK vessels. The purpose of the schedule is to amend the relevant secondary legislation so that it will, in the future, apply to all vessels fishing in UK waters regardless of nationality. That should ensure an equitable approach towards our treatment of foreign vessels, if access is negotiated, of course. Extending these statutory instruments will mean foreign vessels will be bound by the same sustainability regulations as UK boats for the first time. That is a major win for this Bill. At the Welsh Government’s request, the schedule also includes an equivalent amendment to secondary legislation made by them.

Question put and agreed to.

Schedule 2, as amended, accordingly agreed to.