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House of Lords written question – answered on 24th November 2011.

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Photo of Lord Kennedy of Southwark Lord Kennedy of Southwark Opposition Whip (Lords)

To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to improve the ecomanagement of fisheries.

Photo of Lord Taylor of Holbeach Lord Taylor of Holbeach The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Improving the ecomanagement of fisheries is inherently linked to reform of the European common fisheries policy (CFP). The UK is seeking genuine and radical change to the CFP through the current reform process. We want to end the wasteful practice of discarding fish and have made a commitment to fish, where possible, all fish stocks at their maximum sustainable yield by 2015.

A reformed CFP should integrate fisheries management with other marine environmental policies, and this is to support the delivery of good environmental status by 2020 through the European marine strategy framework directive (MSFD). The CFP will be a key tool for delivering many of the measures necessary to achieve GES under the MSFD, such as improving the condition of fish populations and reducing impacts on habitats and sensitive species. We are leading in this area, as the UK is ahead of most member states in developing national targets and indicators for GES.

In addition, the UK is committed to protecting important marine habitats through developing an ecologically coherent network of marine protected areas. These may require the management of fishing activities to conserve or improve the UK marine environment and protect a range of representative features.

We have also taken a strong position on the protection of sensitive species from fishing activities. The UK is a leading international voice for the protection of vulnerable sharks, and both in our waters and internationally we look to ensure sustainable fisheries, trade and the protection of all endangered shark species. We have also completely prohibited the removal of shark fins at sea (shark finning), and are pushing for this to be adopted Europe-wide. We also oppose all forms of whaling, other than limited whaling operations by indigenous people for clearly defined subsistence needs. Furthermore, we are working with fishermen to develop technologies that reduce cetacean by-catch in fishing gears to the lowest possible level.

Through these policies we are continuing to influence and work with others, including other member states, the European Parliament and the European Commission, to agree the necessary changes to deliver a sustainable fisheries and marine environment.

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