Peter Aldous writes for the Lowestoft Journal on the publication of the Fisheries White Paper.
With Brexit dominating the news, it is important to highlight the publication last week of the Fisheries White Paper, which provides the framework within which to revitalise the industry in Lowestoft.
The cornerstone of this consultation document is that leaving the EU means that the UK takes back control of our territorial waters for the first time in 40 years, access will be on the UK’s terms and for the benefit of UK fishermen.
There will now be a period of consultation for a further nine weeks and next year the Government will bring forward the Fisheries Bill which other MPs and myself will scrutinise to make sure that its provisions are in the best interests of our respective constituencies.
Generally the White Paper’s proposals are welcome, though it will be important to ensure that local fishermen, particularly those in what is known as the inshore fleet, will be able to catch enough fish with which to earn a fair living. A root and branch review of the current quota system is required.
It is also important to bear in mind that over the past 40 years as the industry has declined in Lowestoft supporting facilities have either deteriorated or been removed and there is a need for funding to be provided for investment in new infrastructure.
Within this national framework the Government now need to promote the production of regional fishing strategies, like the one that the industry locally in the form of REAF (the Renaissance of East Anglian Fisheries) have submitted.
The purpose of these strategies must be to ensure that coastal communities such as Lowestoft are able to derive maximum benefit from the opportunity that Brexit presents, addressing such issues as infrastructure investment and also the future management of fisheries.
Local fishermen have a key role to play in this latter work.
It is completely wrong that electronic pulse fishing by Dutch vessels is currently allowed in waters within which they have fished for generations.
As mentioned at the outset this will not be allowed when we have regained control of our own waters, though it is important that it is banned as quickly as possible and I have re-emphasised this to Government.
In summary the White Paper is a good start, but there is much more work to do.
This article was first published in the Lowestoft Journal
View Waveney in a larger map