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Renaissance of East Anglian Fisheries Study

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 4:00 pm on 5th November 2019.

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Photo of Peter Aldous Peter Aldous Conservative, Waveney 4:00 pm, 5th November 2019

I beg to move,

That this House
has considered the recommendations of the Renaissance of East Anglian Fisheries study.

It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Mr Pritchard. I also welcome my hon. Friend the Minister to his place. He has been very supportive of proposals to revitalise the UK fishing industry, and through the Fisheries Bill, which I hope is only temporarily stalled, he has provided a framework for doing that.

My interest is in the East Anglian coast, which runs for 208 miles from King’s Lynn in Norfolk to Leigh-on-Sea in Essex, with Lowestoft in Suffolk, in my constituency, geographically at its centre. Lowestoft is historically the fishing capital of the southern North sea, and the hope is that in the future, if we make the most of the opportunity that Brexit presents, it will be the regional hub port at the heart of a revived but modern fishing industry that plays a key role in the regeneration of coastal communities.

REAF—the Renaissance of East Anglian Fisheries—is a community-led group that has come together to produce a long-term strategy for fishing in the region. Work began in 2018 as a result of the joint endeavours of East Suffolk Council, June Mummery, Paul Lines and me. A partnership was formed between the regional industry, East Suffolk Council, Suffolk County Council, Norfolk County Council, the New Anglia local enterprise partnership, Seafish, and Associated British Ports. Funding was provided by the participating councils, Seafish and the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund, via the Marine Management Organisation. East Suffolk Council has given invaluable administrative and project management support and has hosted our meetings.

The REAF report was prepared by its members, with advice from Rodney Anderson and research and analysis from Vivid Economics. The strategy builds on the insights of numerous stakeholders and expert interviews across the whole industry, as well as conversations with regulators and public bodies. Special thanks go to all those who have contributed to the project.

There is a long history of fishing along the East Anglian coast. However, over the past 40 years, its importance to the area has significantly declined, and in Lowestoft, where it used to underpin the local economy, the industry is currently a very pale shadow of its former self. Across the region, the industry covers a diverse range of fleets and activities, including a shellfish fleet; an inshore fleet catching flatfish; some offshore demersal and pelagic fleets; processing, with some international exports; port and market services; and various other ancillary activities.