As UK Fisheries Minister, I have made clear that the conservation of our fish stocks is my top priority. Without sustainable fish stocks, we cannot have a sustainable fishing industry. I want to see that reflected in reform of the common fisheries policy.
In the last round of EU Fisheries Council negotiations, I supported the setting of catch limits for this year, which reflected the scientific advice for the stocks in question—and only sought to alter the Commission’s proposals where these would have caused significant economic difficulties for the coastal communities concerned. Ultimately, this represented a balance of UK interests.
In the lead-up to this year’s negotiations, we will be working with industry and colleagues from the devolved Administrations to further encourage the widespread application of more selective fishing gear and working practices, to deliver even more significant reductions in discards, and eventually more sustainable fish stocks in UK (and EU) waters.