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Fish Products: Standards

Volume 690: debated on Thursday 4 March 2021

What discussions he has had with Cabinet colleagues on ensuring that fish products imported from the EU are subject to the same standards and requirements as fish products exported to the EU. (912949)

I regularly have discussions with Cabinet colleagues on this issue, in particular through the Cabinet Sub-Committee dealing with EU exit. Import controls on fish products are being introduced in stages. Imports of most fish products have required illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing documentation since January. That includes a catch certificate. We plan to introduce documentary checks for export health on imported fish from April and some physical checks from July.

I thank my right hon. Friend for all the efforts he is making to iron out the wrinkles in the export of fish products from the UK. However, if these problems persist, why do we not serve notice on our friends in the EU that with immediate effect we intend to treat the import of fish products from EU countries in precisely the same way that our fish exports to EU countries, especially France, are currently being treated—regulatory equivalence? Would that not help to bring people to the table to resolve the current disruption being suffered by our fishing industry?

As I said to the Chair of the Select Committee earlier, when we start to introduce those checks they will indeed be equivalent and similar to the types of checks that the European Union is currently requiring on our own fish exports. At that point, I hope there will be an opportunity for some discussion about how we can each ensure that we have the right safeguards for our respective markets in a way that is more user-friendly and more pragmatic. There are countries in the world that have better and more developed systems for doing this documentation than the European Union.