uk government sustainable fishing

DEFRA says the UK Government is committed to sustainable fishing

The Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has issued a response to the criticism for the removal of amendments in regards to sustainability from the Fisheries Bill.

In a vote in the Fisheries Committee on 08 September, the UK Government removed some of the language around sustainability from the UK Fisheries Bill. These amendments had been introduced when the Bill passed through the House of Lords.

The actions had met with disapproval from many in politics, non-governmental organisations and throughout the general public who believe the Government is removing protections in the Bill that open avenues for exploitation. 

On the day of the vote Parliamentary Secretary of State at DEFRA, Victoria Prentis said “The Fisheries Bill already contains a robust framework of reporting and review requirements in the Bill that will, we feel, provide sufficient information against which inform a drive progress against the fisheries objective.”

DEFRA has reiterated the Parliamentary Secretary’s and explained the Government’s decision to remove sustainability as what Labour MP, Luke Pollard called “the prime objective of the Bill”.

A Defra spokesperson said:

“As an independent coastal state, we want our fisheries managed in a way that protects our precious marine and coastal environment, while enabling our seafood sector and coastal communities to thrive.

“The Government is committed to sustainable fishing, and our flagship Fisheries Bill enshrines that commitment in law. The Bill introduces the concept of Fisheries Management Plans – legally binding plans for achieving sustainable fish stocks – and leaving the Common Fisheries Policy is an opportunity to ensure a fairer share of opportunities for the whole of the UK industry.”


  • The changes to the sustainability clause made by the House of Lords created legal and constitutional issues, which would have undermined the implementation of this Bill including its important environmental objectives. It would also have led to significant social and economic consequences for the industry and coastal communities as they transition to a new and improved fisheries management regime.
  • Sustainability is internationally accepted as having three pillars – environmental, economic and social. The original drafting of the Bill was designed to balance complex objectives which between them cover the three pillars of sustainability.

On sustainability

  • We are committed to sustainable fishing, for the benefit of future generations and to conserve our valuable marine environment.
  • The Fisheries Bill enshrines in law the Government’s commitment to sustainable fishing – through its objectives and fisheries statements, and through the new legal commitment to produce fisheries management plans to restore our fish stocks to sustainable levels.
  • Sustainable fishing is at the heart of this bill with clear objectives to fish in a way that is environmentally sustainable, seeking to reduce the wasteful practice of
  • The Bill also extends the powers to the Marine Management Organisation and the Scottish and Welsh Ministers to restore, conserve, and enhance the marine
  • The Government remains committed to appropriate monitoring and enforcement so that we can manage our fisheries sustainably.
  • As we become an independent coastal state, we are committed to working closely with our partners to manage shared stocks in a sustainable way and share fishing opportunities on a fair and scientific basis.

Clause 27:

  • Fishing quota is not the principal barrier to attracting new entrants into the fishing industry
  • Stability in the industry is important to new entrants who want a secure career.  That is why the government is focused on delivering a thriving and sustainable fishing industry as an independent coastal state. 
  • We are also committed to supporting new entrants to the industry  through relevant training and encouragement. The government and Seafish (the public body which supports the seafood industry in the UK) are teaming up with a range of training partners to deliver an array of relevant apprenticeships across the UK in the seafood and maritime industries.
  • Each year there’s a guaranteed minimum level of quota for certain fish stocks for under 10 metre vessels. Quota donation to the under 10m pool is also a way of fulfilling the economic link conditions in UK fishing licences. 
Brian J McMullin Solicitors
MMG Welding Killybegs

DEFRA says UK Government is Committed to Sustainable Fishing

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