UK Fishing Industry — [Sir Henry Bellingham in the Chair]

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 9:30 am on 12th December 2018.

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Photo of Sheryll Murray Sheryll Murray Conservative, South East Cornwall 9:30 am, 12th December 2018

Absolutely. I wanted to point out what Bertie Armstrong had said, wholly and solely because, off the south-west coast, in areas VIId and VIIe—or VIIb to VIIk, actually, which is the whole of the south coast—UK fishermen have a tiny proportion of the EU total allowable catch. They get something like 8% of that quota, compared with 80% for our French counterparts. That is what causes the concern and the problems, because if there is cod on the ground, fishermen cannot stop the cod swimming into their nets, and many have to be discarded. What happens when fishermen catch a net full of cod? They cannot land it, but they cannot throw it away either. That is a good illustration of the problem with the landing obligation under the top-heavy bureaucratic common fisheries policy.

I have mentioned the south-west and area VIIe, but I want to point out to the Minister some of the proposals that are on the table for the North sea stocks. I understand from the National Federation of Fishermens Organisations that the proposals are for a 22% reduction in whiting, a 33% reduction in cod and a 31% reduction in haddock. What will the Minister do to rebalance that?

If all the fish, using zonal attachment, were available for the British fishing fleet to catch and land from when we leave the European Union—my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister and the Secretary of State have said that we will leave the common fisheries policy on March 29 2019 at 11 o’clock in the evening—it would certainly benefit the United Kingdom and our economy. We should look to redress the imbalance that has been heaped on the industry for more than 40 years.

Other hon. Members want to speak, and we have only a short time for the debate, so, in summary, I wish to hear what the Minister will do at the Council. Will he send a message to our European partners that when the United Kingdom leaves on March 29 2019, we will honour our obligations under the United Nations convention on the law of the sea and the United Nations fish stocks agreement—particularly article 62—and set quotas in a sustainable way, as is our obligation, but make available to other nations only the surplus of fish that the UK fleet cannot catch? It will be interesting to hear what my hon. Friend the Minister has to say at the end of the debate. I will finish now, because I promised other hon. Members who want to contribute that I would speak only for a short time.