Aquaculture — [Sir David Amess in the Chair]

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 4:18 pm on 17th July 2019.

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Photo of Robert Goodwill Robert Goodwill The Minister of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs 4:18 pm, 17th July 2019

It is clear that the UK is at the cutting edge globally of progress in this area, and I am pleased to recognise that.

I reassure those in the industry that EMFF funding will continue to be available until 2021. In December, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State announced an additional £37.2 million for fisheries and aquaculture over the next two years. He also made a commitment that the Government will put in place domestic long-term arrangements to support the industry from 2021, through the creation of four new schemes comparable to the EMFF to deliver funding for each part of the UK. In addition to the EMFF funding, the UK Government’s seafood innovation fund is a three-year, £10 million research and development fund, which I can confirm applies to the whole of the UK. The fund will focus on investing in innovative research and development, helping to improve both the environmental sustainability and the productivity of the fishing and aquaculture industries, and will be launched imminently.

The Scottish Aquaculture Innovation Centre at Stirling University, which connects industry with academia, facilitates knowledge exchanges and funds projects, plays a key role in addressing the sustainability challenges through innovative solutions. Further investment of £17 million through the Stirling and Clackmannanshire city region deal to develop the new National Aquaculture Technology and Innovation Hub is welcomed.

Important points have been raised in today’s debate, which I hope I have covered. I am optimistic about the future of aquaculture. I want to see a sustainable, profitable fishing and aquaculture industry, to have the greatest possible tariff-free and barrier-free trade with our European neighbours, and to negotiate our own trade arrangements around the world. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State met representatives of the Scottish aquaculture and salmon industry just last week to discuss this issue. We look forward to continuing our engagement with the sector to achieve our common goal: that exports of top quality UK aquaculture products should be able to continue in all scenarios.

Delivering a negotiated deal with the EU remains the Government’s top priority, but like any responsible Government we are planning for all scenarios, which must include leaving without a deal. We acknowledge industry concerns about the impacts of a no-deal EU exit, particularly on the continued ability to rapidly transport a premium product to the EU. We and the devolved Administrations have published guidance on the revised export requirements and will ramp up engagement with businesses to ensure that they are clear on those requirements.

Hon. Members have raised many important topics today, and I am grateful to have had the opportunity to close this debate. I have heard voiced today the passion for further developing this dynamic and innovative industry. We have heard about the valuable contribution that aquaculture is making to the UK economy, boosted by Government investment in research and innovation in Stirlingshire. We have heard about the innovative recirculation aquaculture system farm that has recently opened in the region. I will be interested to see what role that technology plays in the expansion of the UK aquaculture industry, and look forward to having an opportunity in future to visit the facility to see the research that is going on and how we can not only reduce food miles in domestic production, but have low-carbon protein delivered to our plates. We have acknowledged the sustainability and export challenges that the industry faces and how the Government are working to support it through those challenges. Overall, it is an exciting time for UK aquaculture and I look forward to seeing the industry continuing to grow and thrive.

Question put and agreed to.