Thursday, 30 June 2022

EFRA committee meeting with Fisheries minister, Victoria Prentis - full meeting.

On June 21st, Lord Teverson Liberal Democrat Lords Spokesperson (Energy and Climate Change), Chair, EU Environment Sub-Committee, Chair, EU Environment Sub-Committee To asked the Government what steps they will take to assist the under 10 metre fishing sector in meeting its increased fuel costs.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Defra replied that;

"We will continue to support the fishing sector through the £100 million UK Seafood Fund, which as one of its main objectives seeks to increase the sustainability of the sector, including through investing in the transition to renewable energy.

Defra is also making £32.7 million in annual funding available across all four nations of the UK, which last year enabled grant schemes to be opened in England, Scotland and Northern Ireland, benefiting hundreds of UK businesses. The grant scheme for England, the Fisheries and Seafood Scheme, delivers investment to safeguard the long-term sustainability, resilience and prosperity of the seafood sector. This includes a wide range of support aimed at fishing vessels, with enhanced funding rates of up to 80% made available to members of the small-scale coastal fleet.

In recognition of the challenges in the maritime sector, including the fishing industry, in the 2022 Spring Budget the Chancellor overturned the 2020 announcement to remove the red diesel entitlement for commercial boat operators, meaning the industry can continue to use red diesel, in addition to the Marine Voyages Relief, which gives 100% relief on fuel duty costs.

The increasing cost of fuel is affecting a wide range of sectors including the fishing industry and vessels of all sizes are being affected. Our primary focus is on analysing how the UK fleet is being affected by fuel and fish prices. Defra Ministers and officials are working with colleagues across government, along with a wide range of stakeholders, and are closely monitoring the situation.

The Government has shown long term commitment to the sector and will continue to do so in the future. As part of this long term commitment we are not planning to repurpose funds to mitigate the impacts of high fuel prices. We consider this is a cross cutting issue, and so are liaising with colleagues across government to determine the longer-term impacts and any mitigating actions.

Environmental Food and Rural Affairs Committee met with Helen McLachlan Head of Marine Policy RSPB, Scotland and Victoria Prentis MP

On Tuesday the Environmental Food and Rural Affairs Committee met with Helen McLachlan Head of Marine Policy RSPB, Scotland and Victoria Prentis MP Minsiter for Farming and Fisheries. The members present were: Sir Robert Goodwill (Chair); Kirsty Blackman; Geraint Davies; Barry Gardiner; Dr Neil Hudson; Julian Sturdy; Cornish MP Derek Thomas.

The EFRA Select Committee, are continuing our investigation into the UK seafood fund. The second part of the meeting was with the Minister, Victoria Prentis, and one of her officials. 

In this first section, we have three witnesses. 

Dr Stewart: It is a pleasure to be here. I am Dr Bryce Stewart. I am a senior lecturer at the University of York. I am director for engagement and partnerships in the department of environment and geography. I am trained as a marine ecologist but have increasingly broadened out into general issues around fisheries management and marine conservation. 

Chloe North: I am Chloe North. I manage the Western Fish Producers’ Organisation, which is a co-operative of fishing companies based mostly in the south-west and covering a range of gear types. 

Helen McLachlan: I am Helen McLachlan, head of marine policy at RSPB. I am here today representing the views of the Future Fisheries Alliance, which is a partnership of the Marine Conservation Society, WWF and RSPB.

Below is a transcript of the second part of the meeting with Victoria Prentis MP.