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

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 9:55 am on 12th December 2018.

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Photo of David Duguid David Duguid Conservative, Banff and Buchan 9:55 am, 12th December 2018

It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Sir Henry, and I will try to be as quick as I can.

I again congratulate my hon. Friend Mrs Murray on securing this debate, which is about a subject that I know is very close to her own heart as well as being a key industry in her constituency.

Fishing at least has been, if it is not now, the lifeblood of constituencies represented by hon. Members around this Chamber today. Under the European Union’s common fisheries policy, we have seen many smaller fishing constituencies—and, in some cases, not so small fishing communities—reduced to a mere shadow of their former glory. I am sure that hon. Members would agree that, regardless of how else we might feel about Brexit, the CFP is a discredit to our coastal communities that we must take every possible opportunity to redress.

My own constituency of Banff and Buchan has fared relatively well in the last few decades, Peterhead being the largest whitefish port in Europe and Fraserburgh the largest port in Europe for nephrops. Although those ports survive, overall activities are not what they once were. As we look forward to a “sea of opportunity”, it is not only those brave fishermen who go out to sea to catch the fish who stand to benefit. We must also see an expansion in our capacity to process the product. We need to improve infrastructure and transport links, and perhaps invest in chiller facilities at one of the Scottish airports to help facilitate the export of fish further afield than the EU, such as north America and the far east.

An expansion in our ability to catch more of our fish in our waters will also see a benefit to those services and industries that support the fishing sector: boat building, maintenance and servicing are just a few examples. One local fisherman told me recently that when his boat is in for annual maintenance and he berths it in dry dock, he provides work for around 40 different contractors, mostly from around the local community and certainly from around north-east Scotland. The more fishing opportunities that we have, the more active our fishing boats will be, and the better things will be for the wider coastal communities and the economy.