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Fisheries Policy

Volume 640: debated on Thursday 3 May 2018

8. What discussions he has had with the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs on negotiations on fisheries policy for when the UK leaves the EU. (905123)

We continue to have regular conversations with ministerial colleagues across Government on all aspects of exiting the EU, including on fisheries policy. The Government have been absolutely clear that when we leave the EU, and at the end of the implementation period, we will be an independent coastal state, managing our fisheries and controlling access to our own waters.

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for his response. He will have seen the joint statement released by the Scottish Fishermen’s Federation and the National Federation of Fishermen’s Organisations earlier this week. Will he join me in backing the clear, clean and achievable goals that the UK-wide fishing industry is united behind?

I can tell my hon. Friend that I have read that statement with care and that we do share its ambitions. Ministers fully understand and recognise that fishing is of totemic importance to not just the fishing community but the UK as a whole—this goes way beyond its contribution to GDP. We take that knowledge forward as we go into these negotiations, working to deliver that status as an independent coastal state, with all that that entails.

In order to demonstrate that Scottish fisherman will not be treated as expendable once again, have the Minister’s discussions focused on control of Scotland’s waters being given wholly to Scotland?

As we go forward, we will continue to work with the devolved Governments to ensure that there is a settlement that works for the whole of the United Kingdom.

Notwithstanding what the Minister has just said and his colleagues have repeated many times, there are lingering doubts among the fishing community in my constituency and in neighbouring Grimsby. Can he give an absolute assurance that no further concessions will be made?

My hon. Friend and my hon. Friend the Member for Banff and Buchan (David Duguid) are both fierce champions of the fishing cause, and I am sure that they will continue to hold us to account. I say to them that the Government fully understand and recognise the totemic importance of fishing. We will take that understanding forward to negotiations, as we work to become an independent coastal state. I very much look forward to my colleagues on this side of the House perhaps one day standing here as fisheries Ministers, operating our own independent fishing policy.

I know my hon. Friend the Minister will recognise that the common fisheries policy has been a disaster for the south-west fishing industry over the past 45 years—it has declined to the point where even if quotas were repatriated, we probably could not actually use them. Will he reassure me that in his discussions with his colleagues he is making sure that we will rebuild the industry, providing the support to do so, to ensure that when powers are repatriated we can actually take advantage of them?

We will certainly work to take advantage of new powers as they are repatriated. After we have left the common fisheries policy, its two main pillars—mutual access to waters and the EU allocation of quota—will fall away. Once we have taken back control, I look forward to the regrowth of our own fishing industry, particularly as I originally hail from Cornwall.