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Fish Quotas (Thanet)

Volume 515: debated on Thursday 9 September 2010

Numerous discussions with fishermen in the south-east in recent weeks, including in Thanet, have made me acutely aware of quota issues and the problems caused by the closure of key fisheries to the inshore fleet. The Marine Management Organisation has worked hard to secure additional quota to reopen fisheries and continues to do so. However, the current system is not sustainable. That is why the sustainable access to inshore fisheries project and common fisheries policy reform are key priorities.

Will the Minister thank the Department for the work it has done to support fisheries in the south-east, and will he outline his ambitions for the renegotiation of the CFP in 2012?

I am grateful for my hon. Friend’s thanks to the officials in my Department, who have worked extremely hard, and to those in the MMO, who have worked tirelessly. However, fishermen in her area and many others up the east coast should be grateful to the MPs concerned, who have lobbied me very hard on those issues. My hon. Friend is absolutely right. There is a three-phase approach to dealing with this problem. First, we want to keep fishermen in business, which involves swapping quota where we can and working on a short-term basis so that they can continue to fish. Secondly, we need to look at the recommendations of the sustainable access to inshore fisheries project, which has come up with some really good suggestions on which we want to consult widely. Thirdly, however, the CFP is in desperate need of reform. The door is open to the kind of reforms that would be appreciated, I believe, on both sides of the House. I want to work with my hon. Friend and other Members who represent fisheries communities to ensure that we have a CFP that is fit for purpose for our times.