The Secretary for State claims EU fishing boats will require a proven track record on non-quota stocks to get licenced in UK waters
Secretary for State George Eustice has said that EU fishing vessels will only have access to non-quota stocks in UK waters once they can prove a track record.
Mr Eustice made the claims under questioning from Labour MP, Barry Gardiner at yesterday’s Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee when he asked about the issue uncovered last week by The Fishing Daily.
Mr Gardiner pressed Mr Eustice on the problem asking him about the future of non-quota stocks being fished by EU vessels in UK waters.
“Non pressure stocks are often a financial lifeline for the small inshore vessels as they have very limited shares to catch quota species, said the Labour MP.
“Can you confirm that we’ve granted full access to non-pressured stops to EU vessels within our 6-to-12-mile waters on a historical basis?”
“The trouble is that we don’t have any knowledge of what that historical catch record is for those vessels and stocks in that. So, how will you ensure that those stocks are not put at risk and that the inshore fleet that depends heavily on them for their livelihoods are also not put at risk?
Mr Eustice replied, “Yes, so on non-quota stocks. There was basically a provision in that TCA that said there should be a further discussion on access and track record, and although there aren’t always catch records kept, there are sales data records and landing records and often records about where static gear might have been laid.
“So, we will be working through this with the EU to make sure that where they’re entitled to that access it there only entitled to it once they prove a track record in those stocks.
When asked by Mr Gardiner if that was not currently possible Mr Eustice answered, “At the moment that’s not resolved. That remains a discussion, I think.”
“So, it remains a threat to our inshore fleet?” Mr Gardiner pressed him.
Mr Eustice responded “Well, I wouldn’t it that way. These are non-quota stocks that some of these vessels, you know, would have been accessing, but we are issuing licences to French vessels but only once they prove their track record.”
By Oliver McBride