The Westminster Hall debate: ‘Allocation to UK-EU Fisheries following the UK’s departure from the EU’ heard from former Shadow Minister for Fisheries, Luke Pollard
The Westminster Hall debate: ‘Allocation to UK-EU Fisheries following the UK’s departure from the EU’ heard from outgoing Shadow Minister for Fisheries, Luke Pollard who has been replaced by Jim McMahon, MP for Oldham West and Royton.
Mr Pollard lost his position in the Shadow Cabinet reshuffle and the Plymouth MP received praise and recognition from all sides of the House for his hard work and dedication to the fishing industry since he took over the position on 07 January 2020.
Even though he had been relieved of his position by Labour leader, Sir Keith Starmer, Mr Pollard was no less passionate about the UK fishing industry and bowed out leading a strong line for an industry he has grown to know well.
He opened by saying, “We’ve started off our time as an independent coastal state quite poorly and that is because of a botched Brexit deal. It was because of overpromising to our fishers, and it was because, frankly, when it came to the crunch, fishers were regarded as being disposable by the negotiators. They must not ever be regarded as disposable. This industry matters.”
Mr Pollard praised the efforts that has been made to improve safety at sea and such as locator beacons. He paid tribute to the RNLI and their volunteers, along with the Coastguards.
He also talked about the financial losses in the fishing and seafood industry caused by Brexit which will cost an estimated £64 million a year. He said, “That is not eating away at margins, it’s breaking businesses.”
He also talked about the problems exporters are suffering due to Brexit, with additional red tape and said that many small exporters have stopped selling into the EU markets due to the situation. He also addressed the issue that many live bivalve mollusc growers and exporters are still in dire trouble even though the Government reclassified waters in some areas from Class B to Class A, which conforms with EU regulations on the importing of LBMs from third countries.
On issuing of UK fishing licences, he asked the Minister, Victoria Prentis if there have been any lessons learned from what has happened and told her that many fishermen in the UK are wary of their French neighbours since the arrest and detention of the Cornelis-Gert Jan some weeks ago. The UK-registered fishing vessel was left of a list of fishing vessels with EU water permits supplied to the EU/French authorities.
He asked Minister of Fisheries, Victoria Prentis a question on her expectations for the December Fisheries Council on shared stocks, what is the science the UK will be asking for in relation to this.
He said, “Much of the extra promised fish the Government made a lot of in the announcement is paper fish. It only swims on spreadsheets. It does not exist in the sea and it was a fabrication and a fiction, and fishers know it.
“So how can we be ensured that any deal that comes out of the December Fisheries Council that affects our shared stock will be based on science and will be catchable?
“What are we doing in relation to non-quota species, because I think there is a real concern about how some of that sits?
“And I would also like the Minister to recognize that the absence of a deal for Norway, fishing in distant waters is causing a real pressure, not for fishers in Plymouth but for the fishers I met when I went to Hull to see the distant/deep-water fleet there.
“There is a real concern that a lack of a deal with Norway is going to collapse that part od the sector which is a really proud part of Hull’s fishing past, but also its present and its future as well.
“Finally, I would like to know what the Government’s plan is for Net Zero is fishing is, because each and every time our boats go to sea they consume an enormous amount of diesel, pumping a large amount of carbon into the atmosphere, and I would like to the Government to have a strategy that has a date as to when fishing will become net zero, not just because they are buying offsets for larger companies, but because they are decarbonizing their propulsion and having more sustainable ways.”
He signed off by saying, “I enjoyed my chance to serve on the frontbench, and I say to the Minister that I will continue to ask difficult questions from the backbenches about fishers especially for those in Plymouth.”
by Oliver McBride