Newhaven MP Maria Caulfield has supported Newhaven’s fishermen during a House of Commons debate on the future of the UK’s fishing industry post Brexit.
The Fisheries Bill is due to set out the legal framework for the UK’s fishing industry once we leave the EU and are no longer part of the EU’s Common Fisheries Policy (CFP). The CFP has been seen by many in the fishing industry as a large contributor to the decline in the UK’s fishing industry.
Maria Caulfield MP raised concerns during the debate including that the UK will remain part of the CFP until the end of the transition period, currently due to end on 31st December 2020. The EU’s annual fisheries negotiation in December 2019 will therefore impact the UK’s fishing industry for at least a year, and UK Ministers may not have a say in these negotiations despite confirmation a Minister will attend.
Another concern was around the exact terminology in the Bill of the word “British”. Fishing for Leave has suggested that any British vessel should be 60% UK crewed and 60% UK-owned, retaining 60% of the catch landed. Maria Caulfield believes that it is vital to ensure compliance with the term “British” if the economic benefits to the fishing communities can be delivered. This will ensure that multinationals are not buying up the UK’s fishing entitlement.
Maria Caulfield MP said “I welcome the Bill as it is a clear indication that, after 40 years, we will leave the EU in March, and the UK will once again become an independent coastal state, responsible for managing its own waters. In Newhaven in my constituency, the fishing industry has been in decline for decades. A once thriving fishing port now sees its local fishermen away for long periods, often working for larger fishing fleets and unable to make a living independently. That is the legacy of the CFP.”
“The Bill provides a ray of hope for the industry, but let us be under no illusion: the changes in the Bill cannot be negotiated away as part of the withdrawal agreement or future trading relationship arrangements. Failure to secure the contents of the Bill will consign the UK fishing industry to the annals of history. I welcome many of the measures in the Bill, but particular highlights for me are the provision revoking the automatic access rights of EU vessels and the new powers for the UK to set catch limits, revoking EU powers to set EU quotas for our waters.”