The coronavirus pandemic shows no sign of slowing down or stopping in the immediate future. We know that the disease will, regrettably, live among us and our communities for some time to come. New clause 20 seeks to mandate that the Secretary of State lays before Parliament a report on the impact of coronavirus and the coronavirus disease on the fishing industry.
Last week at the Opposition day debate on protecting jobs and businesses, I commented on the disproportionate and devastating impact the pandemic is having on our communities. In last week’s Fisheries Bill Committee, I spoke about the need to secure, safeguard and create jobs within our coastal communities, particularly at this devastating and worrying time for many of us. Our coastal communities have been severely impacted by the pandemic already, following years of austerity, as well as having to contend with the spiralling expenses of the fishing industry—this particularly affects smaller businesses with smaller vessels.
The new clause indicates to UK businesses that they are at the forefront of our minds during this really difficult time. Providing a report that outlines the impact of coronavirus on the fishing industry workforce, the supply and availability of fishery products, and the commercial viability of the catching sector in general will highlight any issues. It will give the Government and those in the fishing industry a chance to adapt and change, if that is needed to avoid bankruptcy or other financial issues that might arise. It will also mean that Parliament is given sufficient opportunity to scrutinise the Government’s action—or inaction—in supporting UK fishing communities. The Minister will surely agree that that is something our constituents would want.