UK Fisheries Bill Amendments

UK Fisheries Bill Amendments will mainly give Sea Fish Industry Authority (“the Authority”) greater flexibility

The proposed amendments to the UK Fisheries Bill has been revealed which gives the Sea Fish Industry Authority more compliancy to exercise its functions separately and differently in different parts of the UK.

The UK Fisheries Bill, sets the legal framework for the UK to operate as an independent coastal state after the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) comes to an end on the 31st January 2020.

Amendment 1 (Sea Fish Industry Authority: powers in relation to parts of UK)

The main purpose of this amendment is to give the Sea Fish Industry Authority (“the Authority”) greater flexibility to exercise its functions separately and differently in different parts of the UK, in relation to the sea fish industry, sea fish and sea fish products landed or trans-shipped in those different parts.

This amendment inserts a new clause which, by subsection (3), inserts a new section 3A into the Fisheries Act 1981 (“the 1981 Act”).   This new section will allow the Authority to exercise its functions separately and differently in relation to:

  • the sea fish industry in different parts of the United Kingdom,
  • sea fish and sea fish products landed in different parts of the United Kingdom, and
  • sea fish and sea fish products trans-shipped in different parts of the sea within British fishery limits adjacent to different parts of the United Kingdom.

In consequence of this new section 3A of the 1981 Act allowing the Authority to exercise its functions separately and differently in relation to different parts of the United Kingdom, subsection (2) of the new clause will amend section 2(1) of the 1981 Act to remove the requirement for the Authority to serve the interests of the sea fish industry of the United Kingdom “as a whole”. Subsection (2) also consequentially amends section 2(1) of the 1981 Act to recognise the purpose of the exercise of the Authority’s powers is not solely to promote the efficiency of the sea fish industry of the United Kingdom but also to promote the marketing and consumption of (and export of) sea fish etc. relating to different parts of the United Kingdom etc.

 

Amendment 2 (Sea Fish Industry Authority: delegation of functions)

This amendment inserts a new clause which, by subsection (2), inserts a new section 3B of the 1981 Act. This will allow the Authority to authorise any other person to exercise on its behalf any of its functions  to the extent determined by the Authority.  It will also allow the Authority to give any such person financial and other assistance to do so.

 

Amendment 3 (Sea Fish Industry Authority: accounts and reports)

This amendment is intended to ensure, among other things, that the Authority reports how income received from the levies it imposes has been applied in respect of each part of the United Kingdom.

The amendment inserts a new clause which, by subsection (2)(a), inserts a new subsection (2A) into section 11 (account and reports) of the 1981 Act.  This new subsection provides that the statement of accounts which the Authority is required to prepare must specify the total amount of income received (in the relevant financial year) from levies imposed under section 4 of that Act in relation to sea fish or sea fish products landed in Scotland or trans-shipped within the Scottish zone (see amendment 7 for definition). In addition, subsection (2)(b) of the new clause also inserts a new subsection (7A) into section 11 of the 1981 Act to require that annual reports, prepared under subsection (7) of that section, include details of how income received from levies imposed under section 4 of the 1981 Act has been applied in respect of each part of the United Kingdom.

 

Amendment 4 (Sea Fish Industry Authority: plan relating to allocation of Scottish levies)

The main purpose of this amendment is to require the Authority:

  • to set out annually how it proposes to apply the levy income it expects to receive during the relevant financial year that is attributable to sea fish and sea fish products landed in Scotland or trans-shipped in the Scottish zone, and
  • to seek approval of those proposals from  the committee appointed under paragraph 16(A1) of Schedule 1 of the 1981 Act (to be inserted by amendment 5).

This amendment inserts a new clause, which inserts a new section 11A into the 1981 Act. Subsection (1) of this new section requires the Authority to prepare a plan, before the start of each financial year, setting out: (i) an estimate of the total amount of income it expects to receive that year from levies imposed in relation to sea fish and sea fish products landed in Scotland or transhipped within the Scottish zone; and (ii) the Authority’s proposals for applying that income. The plan must be referred to the committee appointed under paragraph 16(A1) of schedule 1 of the 1981 Act (to be inserted by amendment 5) for approval of the proposals for applying the income.

Subsection (2) provides that the Authority must publish the plan as soon as reasonably practicable after receiving the committee’s approval. Subsection (3) provides that the Authority must then send a copy of the plan to the Scottish Ministers and lay the plan before the Scottish Parliament.

Subsection (4) provides that the Authority must have regard to each relevant plan in exercising its functions and, in particular, in authorising any delegation of functions to another person. Subsection (5) requires any person to whom functions have been delegated to also have regard to each relevant plan. A “relevant plan” is defined in subsection (6) as the most recent plan and any earlier plan containing proposals to apply levy income during the year that the function is being exercised.

 

Amendment 5 (Sea Fish Industry Authority: committee for Scotland)

This amendment inserts a new clause, which by subsection (2)(a) inserts new sub-paragraphs (A1) to (A3) into paragraph 16 of schedule 1 (the Sea Fish Industry Authority) of the 1981 Act.  These new provisions require the Authority to appoint a committee for the purpose of assisting the Authority in the exercise of its functions in relation to the sea fish industry in Scotland.  They also require the Authority to consult the committee on the exercise of its functions in relation to the sea fish industry in Scotland.  Subsection (2)(b) and (c) of the new clause makes two consequential amendments of paragraphs 16(1) and (2) of schedule 1 of the 1981 Act.

 

Amendment 6 (Sea Fish Industry Levies: powers in relation to Scotland and the Scottish Zone)

The main purpose of this amendment is to devolve, to the Scottish Ministers, the control of the Scottish aspects of levies imposed by the Authority. Currently, levies imposed by the Authority require confirmation by the relevant Ministers for England, Wales and Northern Ireland with the agreement of the Scottish Ministers.

The amendment is therefore intended to ensure that levies imposed in relation to sea fish or sea fish products landed in Scotland or trans-shipped in Scottish waters will instead require confirmation by the Scottish Minsters. That will leave English, Welsh and Northern Irish Ministers to exercise their functions in relation to landings and trans-shipments which take place elsewhere. None of this disturbs the current requirements for who pays or collects the levy.

This amendment inserts a new clause amending provisions of the 1981 Act relating to levies.  Section 4 of the 1981 confers a power on the Authority by regulations, to impose a levy on persons engaged in the sea fish industry. Regulations made by the Authority under section 4 must currently be confirmed by order of the relevant Ministers for England, Wales and Northern Ireland with the agreement of the Scottish Ministers.

The amendments to section 4 and schedule 2 of the 1981 Act will ensure that, where the Authority makes regulations to impose a levy in relation to sea fish or sea fish products landed in Scotland or trans-shipped within the ‘Scottish zone’ (as defined), they must be confirmed by order of the Scottish Ministers. Any such order of the Scottish Ministers would be subject to the negative procedure in the Scottish Parliament. The amendments provide that the Scottish Ministers must, before making an order confirming any regulations, consult the committee appointed under paragraph 16(A1) of Schedule 1 of the 1981 Act (to be inserted by amendment 5) and such other persons as they consider appropriate.

The Ministerial power in section 4(7) of the 1981 Act, by order, to increase the maximum rate of the levy is also amended so that the Scottish Ministers will exercise this power as regards a levy imposed in relation to sea fish or sea fish products landed in Scotland or trans-shipped within the Scottish zone.  Any such order of the Scottish Ministers would be subject to the affirmative procedure in the Scottish Parliament. The amendments provide that the Scottish Ministers must, before laying a draft Scottish statutory instrument containing such an order, consult the committee appointed under paragraph 16(A1) of Schedule 1 of the 1981 Act (to be inserted by amendment 5) and such other persons as they consider appropriate.

 

Amendment 7 (Sea Fish Industry Levies: definitions relating to Scotland and the Scottish Zone)

This amendment inserts a new clause which makes consequential amendments to section 14 (interpretation of Part 1) of the 1981 Act by inserting definitions of “Scotland” and “the Scottish zone”.

 

A full list of the amendments is available.

 

Proposed Amendments to the UK Fisheries Bill revealed

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