Schedule 2 - Regulation of Foreigh Fishing Boats

Part of Fisheries Bill [Lords] – in a Public Bill Committee at 11:45 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 11:45 am, 10th September 2020

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.