Peter Aldous calls for local flexibility in post-Brexit national fishing policy

27th February 2018

Peter Aldous calls on the Government to take the opportunity of Brexit to set up a national policy framework for the fishing industry that is flexible enough to respond to the different local demands around the UK coast and benefit local fishermen.

It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Mr Paisley. I congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for North Cornwall (Scott Mann) on securing this debate.

Lowestoft in my constituency was previously the fishing capital of the southern North sea; today it is a pale shadow of its former self. Brexit provides an opportunity to revitalise fishing off the East Anglian coast, and to maximise the economic and social benefits that the industry can bring to local communities and businesses in ports such as Lowestoft. I shall briefly outline the three ingredients required to bring about this renaissance, for which the forthcoming fisheries Bill must provide.

First, East Anglian fisherman must be given the opportunity to catch more fish. The region’s catch sector predominantly comprises the inshore fleet which, as has been well documented, does not get a fair slice of the cake. Moreover, we suffer from the worst excesses of the flagship debacle, with six vessels of the Lowestoft Fish Producers Organisation never coming near the port and landing their catches in the Netherlands and in Peterhead.

If the quota system is to continue, we need a radical reallocation in favour of locally based fisherman, so that they can earn a fair living and the full benefit of their hard work, often carried out in extremely harsh conditions, can be secured for the ports and communities in which they live and work. Secondly, going hand in hand with landing more fish in East Anglian ports, we need to invest in the infrastructure, skills and supply-chain businesses in those ports and the surrounding areas. While in many respects it is surprising how much of this supporting sector remains in Lowestoft and other East Anglian ports, my concern is that it does not have the capacity to cope with a significant increase in landing. The European Maritime and Fisheries Fund runs until 2020. Beyond that date it is necessary for the Government to assess the likely needs of the industry on a regional basis, then make the necessary funds available for a wide range of projects.

The research work to establish what is needed in East Anglia is now under way. The level of funding should at least match the current EU structural funds for fishing. It represents a good investment in UK plc. It will secure a good deal for coastal communities, providing a more diverse and secure economic base. It will help to rebalance the national economy in favour of areas that have suffered a great deal in recent decades. Finally, it is necessary to put in place a management system that has the full confidence and respect of all those working in the industry. This system must be based on science and it should be local, sustainable and collaborative.

In conclusion, we have a great opportunity to revitalise a uniquely British industry for the benefit of local communities that feel that they have been dispossessed and ignored for too long. This task will not be easy, as the industry differs in its make-up and needs around the country. We require a national policy framework that has the flexibility to respond to different demands, so as to allow the industry to flourish locally, all around the UK coast. I look forward to welcoming the Minister to Lowestoft next month, so that he can set out his vision for this national framework, and so that locally we can set about the task of providing that local plan that will enable the industry again to play a leading role in the East Anglian coastal economy.

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The Renaissance of East Anglian Fisheries

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Surgeries

Peter holds regular surgeries at various locations in the constituency. Please call 01502 586568 to make an appointment.

Next Surgeries - 2018: 
Beccles, Saturday 7th July
Lowestoft, Wednesday 25th July

 

 

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