Waveney MP Peter Aldous yesterday called for urgent action to ensure a fair share of quota for the inshore fleet to support fishermen in Lowestoft.
This followed a statement in the House of Commons by Richard Benyon, Secretary of State for the Natural Environment and Fisheries, about the EU’s deal to reform the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP), which is expected to become law later this year. The final deal follows more than three years of difficult negotiations, in which the UK took the lead to secure significant reform of the fundamentally flawed current CFP.
The new CFP will radically transform fishing practices in Europe. These reforms include:-
Once the agreement becomes law, a ban on discarding in ‘pelagic’ fisheries (such as mackerel and herring) will start on 1 January 2015 with a further ban on discards in other fisheries starting from 1 Jan 2016. The new laws will also allow countries to work together regionally to implement measures appropriate to their own fisheries, rather than be subject to ineffective micro-management from Brussels. Furthermore, Richard Benyon affirmed a legally binding commitment to fishing at sustainable levels. This will ensure annual quotas will be underpinned by scientific advice, to achieve healthy fish stocks and a prosperous fishing industry.
Whilst Peter Aldous welcomed the Minister’s work on the CFP, he emphasised that more work is required to redistribute a fair share of quota to the inshore fleet. Richard Benyon gave his reassurances that the Government would examine measures by which quota from the over-10 metre fleet could be transferred to the inshore under-10 metre fleet.
Peter Aldous commented:
“Although I am pleased that the Government’s efforts over the past three years have made great progress in securing a fair deal for the British fleet, fishermen in Lowestoft urgently need a fair share of quota for the inshore under-10s fleet and I welcome the Minister’s commitment to investigate ways in which this can be done to support fishermen and in turn boost the local economy.”
Mr Aldous has been campaigning since being elected in May 2010 to secure a sustainable future for Lowestoft’s fishermen.
Peter Aldous (Waveney) (Con): I congratulate the Minister on his efforts over the past three years in securing a fair deal for the British fleet. My concern is that these reforms come very much at the 59th minute of the 23rd hour for the Lowestoft fleet, which is very much a pale shadow of its former self. What Suffolk fishermen now need—urgently—is a fair share of quota for the inshore fleet. Will he outline the work that his Department is doing to secure this goal?
Richard Benyon: My hon. Friend should be congratulated on his tenacity in supporting what is left of his fishing industry. When we know the history of that great port, it is sad to reflect on what it is now. I want to see not only those fishermen keeping their jobs, but even more fishermen in places such as Lowestoft, bringing prosperity to the town. We are transferring modest amounts of quota from the over-10 metre fleet to the inshore under-10 metre fleet. It is not proving to be without difficulty—there is an ongoing court case taking place—but I am absolutely determined to look at this and a variety of other measures, building on the good work of the sustainable access to inshore fisheries project, which was started by the last Government, so that we can see further prosperity. The best way to help my hon. Friend’s fishermen is to have an increased biomass so that they are able to catch more fish, their children will want to become fishermen and the fishing industry will start to grow in a way that I know it can and contribute to the economy.
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