MPs back post-Brexit fisheries plan

Britain is one step closer to having independent waters after MPs tonight backed a post-Brexit fisheries plan.

Tuesday, 13th October 2020, 10:27 pm
Updated Tuesday, 13th October 2020, 10:38 pm
The Prime Ministers fisheries bill passed the report stage this evening
The Prime Ministers fisheries bill passed the report stage this evening

In a late vote in the House of Commons, MPs supported the UK Government’s plan for fishing in a report stage vote that sailed through.

The Fisheries bill lays the foundations for the future management of stock and ends the automatic right for EU vessels to fish in British waters.

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Environment minister Victoria Prentis insisted the Bill "learns the lessons" from the controversial common fisheries policy.

She said: “This Bill marks a really important step forward as we leave the inflexibilities of the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP).

“It puts in place the framework necessary for the UK to operate as a responsible, independent coastal state. It allows us to ensure that we have sustainable fisheries to provide benefits for future generations.

“The Bill’s fisheries objectives place sustainability front and centre of this Bill. Six out of the eight objectives relate to protecting the environment. It’s critical that we’re able to balance these objectives as we need to.”

Tory leader Douglas Ross praised the bill, and hailed it as a “framework” that allows the UK Government and the devolved administrations to do “far more”.

He said: We've left the EU, when we leave the transition at the end of this year we come out of that straightjacket of the common fisheries policy, that hated CFP that has done so much to damage our industry over the last 40 years.

"We can now start to build back again, build back our fishing industry, our fleet, our crews, our catches and also what they mean to these individual communities."

It came during a heated session that saw opposition MPs repeatedly blast the plan, and call for more powers for Scotland.

SNP MP Deidre Brock accused the UK Government of giving away access to British waters, labelling it a “sacrifice”.

She explained: “This attitude says the fishing industry is expendable, and goes right to the top of the Tory party and right to the heart of the UK Government.

“Given the impact a no deal Brexit would have on the industry is essential, but in order to get a deal this Government looks willing to sell out this industry.”

Already out of the European Union, the UK will become an independent coastal state on January 1 2021 when the transition period ends.

Tonight Ms Brock claimed promises Brexit would bring extra quotas to fishermen were “nonsense”, and labelled the bill a “hastily cobbled together mess”.

She added: “Will it be the fishing equivalent of a Government land grab, or will things just be left well alone so the sea of opportunity remains nothing more than a Narnia tale to be recounted in years to come?”

Concerns were also raised by the Lib Dem MP Alistair Carmichael, who tabled his own amendment that would have given police or the coastguard the power to arrest vessels whose crews are accused of endangering lives at sea.

He then declined to force a vote after being given assurances on progress from the ministers.

Mr Carmichael added: “The Fisheries Bill is not perfect but it represents a significant step forward for fishermen who have been ignored by successive governments for too long.”

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