Secretary for State, George Eustice refused to apologise to the UK fishing industry for a botched Brexit
Luke Pollard Shadow Fisheries Secretary and Labour MP for Plymouth Sutton and Devonport has called on the Secretary for State, George Eustice to apologise to the UK fishing industry for the mess they made of Brexit.
Speaking at today’s Defra orals in the House of Commons, Mr Pollard challenged the Secretary of State to the industry at a time when fishing businesses across the country are on the verge of collapse.
He told Mr Eustice, “Fishing boats are tied-up, exporters are tied-up with red tape. Fishing was promised a ‘sea of opportunity’, but the reality is that many fishing businesses are on the verge of collapse. Much of the so-called extra fish may not even exist or be able to call quite British boats.
“The fishing industry feels betrayed.
“Isn’t now time for Secretary of State to apologise to the fishing industry for the Brexit deal his government negotiated?”
The Secretary of State replied, “I’ve made clear all along that the Government had hoped to get closer to a zonal attachment sharing arrangement in that first multi–annual agreement. But there is a significant uplift of 25% of the fish that the EU have historically caught in our waters that they’ve been required to forfeit as the price for continued access, And, that additional fishing quota is worth about £140 million.”
Mr Pollard again pressed the Secretary for an apology after he side-stepped the question. He said, “There’s no apology. No sense of reality from the Secretary of State. He can’t wriggle out of this one. The net is closing in on him.
“The reality is that fishing has lost trust and confidence in the actions of Defra for all the broken promises.
“Fishing businesses have closed, others will follow. So why won’t the Secretary of State apologise?
“And what does he do to fix the mess this incompetent Government has created for fishing communities nationwide?”
Mr Eustice again replied, “As I said we have through the Trading Cooperation Agreement seen a significant increase in quotas, 25% worth some €146 million.
“It is the case, that yes, we’ve left the single market and the customs union there are some new administrative processes in place. It’s also the case that was challenging for fishing sector during the month of January. That’s why we opened the fund to support them.
“But when I look for the long term, we have regained control of regulations in our waters. It enables us to do conservation measures on places like the Dogger Bank, which would never possible as an EU country. It’s enabled us to ban pulse trawling in our waters.
“These are all things that could not be done at while we were shackled to the Common Fisheries Policy.”
In fact, on the last two items mentioned by Mr Eustice, conservation measures on the Dogger Bank and banning pulse trawling in UK waters was permissible for the Government to carry out under the Common Fisheries Policy.
It has also been estimated that the true gain of British quota will more likely be 8.3%.
by Oliver McBride, Editor