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Marine Management Organisation (Ray Quotas)

Volume 587: debated on Thursday 30 October 2014

1. What steps she is taking to ensure that the Marine Management Organisation receives additional quotas of ray. (905738)

The Marine Management Organisation is urgently pursuing the possibility of quota swaps with other member states. If sufficient additional quota can be acquired through this means, a limited reopening of the fishery may be possible. If not, the fishery will reopen again on 1 January.

Last week the important fish processor in my constituency closed its doors, with the loss of many jobs. Many marine experts regard the monitoring and data processing of landing declarations by the MMO as a joke. Will the Minister hold an inquiry into the management of quota by the MMO? What is he to say to northern Devon fishermen and allied trades who have lost their jobs when, as a result of their pioneering conservation measures, fish stocks in the Bristol channel are abundant?

I am very sympathetic to the arguments my hon. and learned Friend makes. Indeed, when he raised it with me last week I asked the MMO to redouble its efforts to find additional quota. It has been a very good summer of fishing. We do not normally have this problem with skates and rays. It is something that took everyone by surprise, including producer organisations. However, I am keen that lessons are learned. That is why I will be having discussions with the MMO about how it manages the quota on this particular stock. We will also be looking to ensure that next year his constituents continue to have a quota to fish from 1 January.

Will my hon. Friend guarantee to the House today that he will do everything he can to seek additional quota in the negotiations next year to ensure that British fisherman can continue to fish for the whole year without this disastrous effect?

Yesterday, I was in Belfast for the meeting of a stakeholder group of fishing industry leaders. We discussed the approach to the December Council. The UK always takes a science-based approach. We have to recognise that it is in the long-term interests of the fishing industry that we fish our fisheries sustainably. That said, we will be looking at mixed fisheries analysis to ensure that we achieve maximum sustainable yield where possible next year and everywhere else by 2020.