Thursday, 25 October 2018



Camborne (Cornwall) MP for Fishing, George Eustice spoke on BBC Radio 4's Today programme this morning before the Fisheries Bill was published.

Whatever Defra or the Government says, of all UK fisherman, it is the inshore Under 10m fishermen (who make up over 80% of the workforce) who will most likely to feel the consequences of Brexit and the new Fisheries Bill - and yet, even their collectively fishing effort, which was mostly never taken into account, has little consequence on the overall state of NE Atlantic ICES areas fish stocks.

Defra posted this summary of the Bill:
  • The Fisheries Bill is a major milestone in delivering our promise to take back control of our waters, so that we decide who may fish in our waters and on what terms
  • It creates the powers to build a sustainable and profitable fishing industry, in the best interests of the whole UK and future generations
  • The Bill delivers a Green Brexit by extending powers to protect and enhance our precious marine environment
  • Scottish, Welsh and Northern Ireland to get more decision powers than ever before

Legislation creating the powers the UK needs to operate as an independent coastal state after leaving the EU is being introduced into Parliament today (25 October 2018).

For the first time since 1973, the Fisheries Bill will enable the UK to control who may fish in our waters and on what terms.

The Bill also gives the UK the power to implement new deals negotiated with the EU and with other coastal States and manage fisheries more effectively and sustainably in future.

At its heart the Bill delivers on the UK government’s commitment to sustainable fishing and marine conservation as set out in the 25-Year Environment Plan by:

  • Controlling access – by ending current automatic rights for EU vessels to fish in UK waters. In future, access to fish in UK waters will be a matter for the UK to negotiate and we will decide on the terms – foreign vessels would have to follow our rules. These negotiations with the EU are continuing and the Bill will provide us with the powers to implement the agreement
  • Setting fishing opportunities – by proposing powers to ensure that the UK can set its own fishing quota and days at sea, which it will negotiate as an independent coastal State. As now, the UK government will consult the Devolved Administrations.
  • Protecting the marine environment – by ensuring fisheries management decisions are taken strategically for the benefit of the whole marine environment. The Bill extends powers to the Marine Management Organisation and the Devolved Administrations to protect our seas.

The new legislation also proposes ways in which the UK government and the Devolved Administrations will work together to adopt common approaches to fisheries management in certain areas - including preserving UK vessels’ right to fish across the four zones of UK waters and creating a consistent approach to managing access of foreign vessels. The four fisheries Administrations will set out in a joint statement how they will work together to achieve the Bill’s sustainability objectives.

Environment Secretary Michael Gove said:

“This new Fisheries Bill will allow us to create a sustainable, profitable fishing industry for all of the UK. It will regenerate coastal communities, take back control of our waters and, through better conservation measures, allow our precious marine environment to thrive.

“The Common Fisheries Policy has damaged the UK’s fishing industry and our precious fish stocks. The Bill will deliver a sustainable fishing industry, with healthy seas and a fair deal for UK fishermen.”

The Bill also provides powers to reform fisheries rules. To ensure legal continuity, the EU (Withdrawal) Act transferred CFP rules into UK law. This Bill allows government to amend fisheries legislation to respond to scientific advice and innovation quickly - something the CFP failed to do - and to meet our international obligations.

In addition, the Fisheries Bill introduces powers to create new schemes in England to help seize the opportunities of Brexit. These include:

  • a new scheme to help the fishing industry comply with the landing obligation to end the wasteful discarding of fish, and
  • powers to tender additional English quota

Early feedback from some of the key players today:

First off, local St Ives MP Derek Thomas was interviewed by Radio Cornwall's Julie Skentlebery in response to the new bill today:

Cornwall Fish Producers Organisation's CEO Paul Trebilcock's response was:

"Cornish fishermen have waited for over 40 years to address the imbalances between within the CFP, which has continuously worked to the UK's disadvantage. The Fisheries Bill is an important part of rebalancing that process.

As the UK leaves the EU and therefore the Common Fisheries Policy this bill sends a clear signal that the UK will be an independent coastal state and act as such.

The Bill will provide the basis for an adaptive and responsive fisheries policy, capable of dealing with a dynamic industry, resource and evolving scientific advice. A stark contrast to the overtly centralised and bureaucratic decision-making process we have worked with for so long."

Jim Portus responded on behalf of the South West Fish Producers Organisation with:

Michael Gove MP has today launched the long-awaited Fisheries Bill to Parliament. When it is enacted, Gove says that the UK will, as a sovereign independent coastal state, for the first time since 1973 be able to regenerate its coastal communities that have been ravaged by the implementation of the Common Fisheries Policy.

The fishing industry welcomes the arrival of the Fisheries Bill that indeed heralds a new dawn for British fishermen, but as with all legislation, the devil is in the detail as Jim Portus, CEO of SWFPO Ltd explains:

"We celebrated in June 2016 at the result of the Referendum. We remembered the many fishermen who had lost their jobs and the hundreds of fishing boats scrapped to achieve "Equal access to a common resource without discrimination", the principle that lies even today at the heart of the Common Fisheries Policy.

"It was never justified that British fishermen had a risible share of the fish quotas, the majority of which are located within UK's very rich, shallow continental shelf seas. 
"Some have noted with irony that we are prepared now to entrust the reversal of the CFP into the hands of the same Parliament and Government Department that delivered the death blows over the decades to Lowestoft, Fleetwood, Grimsby and many more ports. 
"We had a choice. Either to stay in the CFP and guarantee the destruction of more boats and communities as we drifted helplessly towards that "Equal access" goal, or cast off the tow-rope that binds us to the EU machinery and make our own way to better prospects. 
"Yes, there is a chance that the EU Exit deal may scupper the lifeboat to which we are now clinging. 
"Yes, there is risk that the Implementation Period will be lengthened and momentum lost. 
"Yes, the Prime Minister has a slim majority that may yet be tested to destruction by opponents. 
"Yes, the Fisheries Bill may be amended unhelpfully. 
"But on the whole I'm very pleased we have got this far in the process and I'm looking forward to the weeks and months ahead attending meetings with colleagues and officials where the details will be polished."

The full text of the 2018 Fisheries Bill can be read or downloaded here: