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

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 5:27 pm on 2nd December 2010.

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Photo of Eilidh Whiteford Eilidh Whiteford Shadow SNP Spokesperson (International Development), Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Women), Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Work and Pensions), Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Agriculture and Fisheries) 5:27 pm, 2nd December 2010

In closing the debate, I thank you, Mr Owen, for your exemplary chairing. I thank all hon. Members who participated in proceedings and I especially thank the Minister for his contribution. The very wide range of issues that have been raised indicates just how important fishing is to those of us who represent coastal communities and they also reflect the diversity and complexity of the industry and its management regimes.

We all recognise that the Minister will have his work cut out in the next few weeks. I particularly welcome the emphasis that he is placing on sustainable communities and his commitment to continue to work closely with the Scottish Government and the other devolved Administrations. I have no doubt that he will have to endure a few sleepless nights when the EU talks roll into the wee small hours-as they always do-and he has my sympathy in that respect. However, I do not think that that is the way to manage the industry or our precious marine resources. I echo the comments of the hon. Members for Rutherglen and Hamilton West (Tom Greatrex) and for Glasgow North East (Mr Bain) in saying that we need to move towards longer-term management of our fisheries. I hope that the Minister will work with others across Europe to find a better way.

Among a number of salient points made by Mr Campbell was the observation that the multi-year agreements reached with Norway represent a far better approach to managing our fishing industry. He and Dr Wollaston made a plea that the "use it or lose it" quotas should not be automatically cut. That point is important, because automatically cutting those quotas reduces the scope for diversification and our future negotiating stance. Jim Shannon ably highlighted the great danger of having a fishery that is dependent on only one stock.

I welcome the Minister's commitment to tackling the issue of discards and his backing for a roll-out of the catch quota scheme. I urge him to continue to hold his ground in the negotiations with Iceland and the Faroes. Above all, I urge him to bring the CFP, as we know it, to an end, and to fight for the livelihoods of our fishing communities and to defend our historic fishing industry. Until that happens, our industry will continue to languish and damage our marine environment unchecked.

I hope that the next time that we debate fisheries in this House it will be on the Floor of the House in Government time, and I wish the Minister every success as he fights the good fight for our industry in the next few weeks.

Question put and agreed to.

Sitting adjourned.