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Fishing Policy

Volume 650: debated on Thursday 6 December 2018

11. What recent discussions he has had with the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs on fishing policy after the UK leaves the EU. (908046)

My Department and I continue to work closely with the Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and his team on future fisheries policy. The Government’s vision was set out in the fisheries White Paper and will come into force via powers in the Fisheries Bill. As an independent coastal state, we will take back control of our waters, setting quotas and adapting our fisheries management regime for the first time in more than 40 years.

When we leave the EU, we leave the common fisheries policy and become an independent coastal state. We therefore need to enter upon a new fisheries agreement with the EU, just like Norway, Iceland and the Faroe Islands. Does my hon. Friend agree that Ministers and officials from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs should, with input from stakeholders across the fisheries sector, take the lead in those negotiations?

I know that my hon. Friend has battled hard over the years for Scottish fishing communities. He is like a machine in his relentless enthusiasm and passion for this subject, so I am sure that he already knows the answer. In fact, I am doubly sure that he already knows the answer because he asked exactly the same question of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs just last week. I can assure my hon. Friend that DEFRA and my Department are on the same page, and that the Government have consulted the fisheries industry throughout the negotiations and will continue to do so. It is right that we continue to use the expertise inside and outside of Government to get the best deal for fishermen in Banff and Buchan, Scotland and the whole United Kingdom.

I thought that the Minister might like to know that a recent survey by the chamber of commerce in Cornwall found that 80% of its members wanted to stay in the European Union. Their concerns included the risk of fish caught in Cornwall and exported by truck via Dover being caught in traffic jams. What is he going to do in relation to that and fishing policy?

The right hon. Gentleman, like me, represents one of the most landlocked constituencies in the country, but his question is important none the less. Perhaps he should step back from spreading scare stories about what will happen over the short straits. All he has to do is google what we as a Government are doing and what the French Government are doing to ensure flow over the short straits. He should be happy with what he sees, as should people in Cornwall.