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Fishing Restrictions (Suffolk Coastal)

Volume 512: debated on Thursday 24 June 2010

21. If she will take steps to support fishermen in Suffolk Coastal constituency subject to restrictions in fishing activity arising from quota allocations and regulations on fishing vessels under 10 metres in length. (3957)

As I said, I recognise the difficulties currently facing the inshore fleet. In the immediate term, the Marine Management Organisation is actively managing catch limits to keep fisheries open as long as possible, and is working to secure additional quota through swaps for stocks of importance. However, the current system is not sustainable in the long term. I plan to meet representatives from across industry and reflect on the outputs of the SAIF—sustainable access to inshore fisheries—project as a matter of priority. Common fisheries policy reform will also play a key role, where I want to see greater clarity on user rights and management devolved to local communities.

I thank the Minister for that reply. I hope that when he comes to my constituency to look at the impact of coastal erosion, he will make time to meet local fishermen and, indeed, enjoy some delicious fish and chips in Aldeburgh or Sole Bay. For too long, fishermen have felt remote from what goes on in this House, and direct access to a Minister for a short time would be very welcome.

I hope that I have got it across to many members of the fishing community that I am accessible and that they can approach me to explain their problems, which are often very local and specific to the area of coastline where they fish. I shall certainly take up my hon. Friend’s kind offer of fish and chips in her constituency and have a detailed discussion with members of her fishing community about the problems they face.