Thursday, 4 March 2021

Brexit briefing event run by APPG on Fisheries sees unprecedented engagement

On Thursday 25th February, the All Party Parliamentary Group on Fisheries heard from Secretary of State George Eustice and Anne Freeman of Defra about what the Fisheries Act and the Brexit agreement meant for the UK fisheries sector. Over 250 people listened in as the two key figures laid out future plans for the industry and answered pertinent questions from fishermen, industry representatives and marine scientists.

The Rt Hon George Eustice MP, Secretary of State for the Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs, and Anne Freeman, Deputy Director of Domestic Fisheries and Reform at Defra, spoke and answered pre-submitted questions from attendees. Topics covered included rules surrounding the 6-12 nautical mile zone, funding and support for the fishing industry, and likely further policy changes in the future.

"We were thrilled to be able to welcome both of our speakers to give authoritative answers to the UK fishing industry, and were so pleased about the unprecedented levels of engagement from the industry and Parliamentarians alike,” said Sheryll Murray MP, who chaired the session.

George Eustice MP spoke first, beginning by laying out the key powers of the Fisheries Act, including the focus on sustainability and socioeconomic well-being, fisheries management commitments from the devolved administrations, and licencing of foreign vessels. “The Fisheries Act gives us all the powers we need to take back control of our waters to be an independent coastal state,” he said. Moving on to the EU-UK Trade and Cooperation agreement, he admitted that “we did not get all of the things we wanted”, but highlighted that the UK is seeking to pursue a greater share of quota for UK waters in the coming years. He then answered questions submitted in advance by attendees that related to the concerns of much of the industry, covering topics such as quota negotiations, international partnership opportunities, and streamlining trade.

Anne Freeman spoke for the second half of the meeting, and voiced her hopes that Defra and the industry can work in partnership going forward, recognising that Defra “has a big job to do to rebuild trust”. She provided an overview of the next steps for domestic fisheries management, including the development of the Joint Fisheries Statement (JFS), which the four fishing authorities of the UK will be constructing over the next two years. “We are planning to develop the JFS openly and transparently, and hopefully with considerable constructive engagement with the fishing industry, NGOs and civil society,” she said. She then answered questions related to relevant topics such as funding, quota distribution, and marine planning.

Summaries of all the answers given by the two speakers can be found on the APPG website, along with the recording of the event. 

The APPG’s next event is entitled “Data, Tech and Innovation in UK Fishing”. The APPG seeks innovators from across the UK fishing industry to get in touch at, with the potential of speaking or featuring at this event. The meeting will take place on Wed 24 March at 10am. More information and sign-up can be found here.