In a recent  blog on their website, the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Fisheries (FisheriesAPPG) examined the new Fisheries Bill and in their assessment the Bill shows changes from it’s predecessor.

The Fisheries Bill will come into legislation when the European Union’s Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) is terminated at the end of the Transition Period on the 31 January 2020.

The current UK Government has been exploring models to base their new Fisheries Bill and recently had discussions with Norwegian officials.

The government is promising British fishermen autonomy over their own waters but some believe they could see foreign fishing vessels getting access in exchange for access to EU trade or financial services. 

There are also concerns expressed by some environmental groups that the government’s Maximum Sustainable Yield (MSY) plans are not ‘sustainable’ and could end up damaging fish stocks rather than leading to the healthier stocks promised.

In the FisheriesAPPG  blog the group summaries the Bill writing:

“With the advent of a new government, a new Fisheries Bill has begun making its way through the Houses of Parliament. 

“The previous version of the Fisheries Bill, intended to replace the EU’s Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) following the UK’s exit from the EU, fell at prorogation in late 2019 and so did not complete its passage through Parliament. 

“The new Bill incorporates much from its previous iteration, fulfilling its primary purpose of allowing the UK to manage its fisheries as an independent coastal state. These main points are covered in our digest of the previous Fisheries Bill. This article covers the significant changes that the new Bill has introduced.”

Examining the core objectives it continues:

“The new Fisheries Bill has eight core objectives, two more than the previous Bill. Explanations of those that have remained the same can be found in our previous article.

“The transition to a bycatch objective from a discards objective marks a change in emphasis in the new Bill. The discards objective focused on the gradual elimination of discards and ensuring that catches were landed. The bycatch objective, on the other hand, seeks to principally mitigate catching of fish below minimum conservation reference size and other bycatch, as well as ensuring that catches are recorded and landed.

“The national benefit objective aims to ensure that the work of vessels registered in the UK chiefly brings social or economic benefits to the UK. For instance, by requiring catches to be landed in UK ports, or focusing on employing UK labour.

Defra described the climate change objective as “a new objective to move us towards ‘climate-smart fishing’ in UK waters”. It incorporates both the aim of mitigating fisheries’ contribution to climate change, as well as the promotion of the sector’s adaptation to the effects of climate change.”  

On the Joint Fisheries Statement they summarised :

“The main addition to the new Fisheries Bill is the requirement of a joint fisheries statement (JFS). This is a new piece of legislation that would require England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland to jointly set out the policies intended to fulfil the Fisheries Bill’s eight objectives. The JFS is designed as a tool to ensure coordinated management efforts between England and the devolved administrations, in particular with regards to sustainability. According to Defra, the purpose of the JFS is “to recognise that, although fisheries is devolved, none of those authorities acting alone could achieve the fisheries objectives”. “

Other Changes

“According to this briefing paper for the House of Lords, through which the Fisheries Bill is passing at time of writing, the other main additions are as follows:

  • Expanding on financial assistance schemes to replace the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund.
  • Greater regulatory powers to devolved administrations, in particular to Scotland. These include regulations to fulfil the UK’s international obligations towards areas such as conservation or the global fishing industry.
  • Allowing Wales (and England) to sell quotas for a year to other vessels of the same nation. This is likely in anticipation of quota increases for Welsh and English vessels, which they may not immediately have the capacity to fulfil.

“There is also one significant omission in the new Fisheries Bill. The original Bill included an amendment that required the Secretary of State to pursue two specific negotiating objectives when involved in post-Brexit EU negotiations. The objectives were to determine fishing opportunities through annual UK-EU negotiations, and to restrict access for EU fishing boats, unless UK fishing opportunities exceed what they would have been within the CFP. The previous government stated that this clause was included to “enshrine [a] commitment to secure a fairer share of fishing opportunities for UK fishermen”. The current government has not included the clause, saying that objectives such as these are “not necessary nor the constitutional norm”, in line with other Brexit-related negotiations

On the future of the Bill the FisheriesAPPG continued:

“How the Bill will ultimately look when it comes into force depends on several factors. There will almost certainly be amendments, suggested by Peers and MPs, as the Bill progresses through the Houses of Parliament. It is also partly contingent on the results of negotiations concerning a new UK-EU fisheries agreement, which is scheduled to be completed by 1 July 2020. The APPG on Fisheries Secretariat is happy to address any questions concerning the Fisheries Bill and its developments; you can get in touch at secretariat@fisheriesappg.org.”

Source: FisheriesAPPG blog

FisheriesAPPG summarises latest changes to new Fisheries Bill

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