We need your support to keep TheyWorkForYou running and make sure people across the UK can continue to hold their elected representatives to account.

Donate to our crowdfunder

[Albert Owen in the Chair] — Backbench Business — Fisheries

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 3:30 pm on 2nd December 2010.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Andrew George Andrew George Liberal Democrat, St Ives 3:30 pm, 2nd December 2010

I am grateful to my honourable colleague for that intervention. It emphasises the point, although I do not think that the negotiations at the December Council will be an opportunity to reopen the issue of relative stability. I do not wish to cause earthquakes in Scotland as a result of suggesting that we do that now.

The issue goes back to the '70s and the basis on which, and how, we entered the European Union. That and the basis of our involvement in the common fisheries policy left us with a legacy that has created a complete absurdity. We are not saving any cod. Cod, due to their nature, are bottom fish. They suffer from the bends, so when they are thrown back they are dead. There is no question about that, and not a single life is saved as a result.

The Minister will have received representations from the Cornish Fish Producers Organisation. This is repeating the point that I have made to Ministers in the past on spurdog and porbeagle: zero quotas on both of those do not save a single porbeagle or spurdog. What we need is recognition that it is good for science, as well as for the industry, at least to record what is being caught, even if we do not realise the market value of the fish. I will not go into the detail of what is proposed by the CFPO on spurdog and porbeagle, but I think that it certainly has a good case on landing and recording every porbeagle over 2 metres, and that equally applies to every spurdog over 1 metre.

We need to have a further debate in future; I hope in Government time in the new year. The common fisheries policy has been mentioned on a number of occasions, and it clearly underpins everything that we are discussing today. Given that we need to look at the future of the CFP post-2012, I hope that the Minister will agree to a debate. Members who have been able to get here today and those who could not get here to engage in this debate would like, as early as possible in the new year, to debate this on a cross-party basis. These debates are often consensual, as we have found today, and we could establish a British view on the future of the CFP: a view that, as my hon. Friend Mr Reid mentioned earlier, would be heavily based on a decentralised model-much more decentralised than now-with genuine management powers available to regional management committees.

The absurdity of using the blunt instrument of the quota regime has been highlighted by many Members. Quotas may be needed because it is not possible to distinguish between intended and unintended by-catch, and I am sure any regime would need an indicative quota of some sort, but it is vital that we look at other measures. [Interruption.] I am just about to finish but I am happy to give way.