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Coastal State Fisheries Negotiations: Quota Share

Volume 699: debated on Thursday 22 July 2021

What steps he is taking to maximise the share of quota for British fishermen in the next round of Coastal State fisheries negotiations. (903134)

It is very good to see my hon. Friend back in the Chamber after his illness. For 2021, the Government have secured fishing opportunities of around 628,000 tonnes of quota across all the annual negotiations—approximately 55,000 tonnes more than last year. The Government are now preparing for the next round of annual fisheries negotiations. We have held a series of briefings with stakeholders this month on the latest scientific recommendations, and we will be developing our negotiating mandate in the months ahead.

I thank my right hon. Friend for that answer. The decision not to come to an agreement with Norway was met with mixed reactions across the different sectors within the industry. While the pelagic sector is undoubtedly doing well out of our new status, there have been challenges for the demersal sector. So can my right hon. Friend give a commitment that the Government are determined to deliver honesty of opportunity for all sectors in the industry—demersal as well as pelagic?

My hon. Friend is right. The pelagic sector in particular has benefited from the UK becoming an independent coastal state with more quota and less competition from Norway and the Faroe Islands, which have not had access to our waters this year. For 2021, the fleet received an increase of around 5,800 tonnes of mackerel compared with the year before. My hon. Friend is also right: we want to deliver for all sectors, which is why, in England, we have given a significant uplift to the inshore under-10 metre fleet with additional quota this year. It is also why, as I speak, we are in the final stages of negotiations on annual exchanges with the EU that will help the white fish sector.

The fishing industry knows that the Government have failed to negotiate real-terms quota data with the European Union, and it also knows that the Government have no idea—no idea—how much non-quota species are being caught by EU boats in our waters. With the shellfish ban on exports and British fishers being harassed for catch data that we do not require from EU boats, where in the Tory manifesto did it say that we would actually give away control of our waters, and where is the plan for fishing? Where is the plan?

I will take no lectures on these matters from the hon. Gentleman who wanted us to remain in the European Union and wanted to allow EU vessels to have the ability to fish in our waters without even requiring a licence to do so.

The Government have required all foreign vessels, including EU vessels, to have a licence to fish in our waters, and that sets certain conditions. We have access to vessel monitoring data so that we can track the precise location of all those vessels, and we are also working on methodologies now so that they must declare their catch when they leave our waters and when they enter our waters, and that will give us the data that he suggests that we need.