On Tuesday 13 October, Sir David Amess spoke in the Report Stage of the Fisheries Bill pledging his support for the Bill. Sir David called for stricter controls on who can fish in our waters and an increasing focus on environmental sustainability.
When we leave the European Union and the Common Fisheries Policy, we can control our fishing industry and waters as an independent coastal state.
Sir David said” The Report stage of this Bill is an historic moment for our country—one that I have long sought to see. As someone who voted no in the first referendum and leave in the second referendum, I am absolutely delighted to be here and see this happen. I will support the Government amendments and I was convinced by the Minister’s arguments that other amendments are not necessary.
The Bill leaves us with a unique opportunity to prosper as a global giant in the fishing industry and to regulate the sector how we see fit, instead of just following the European Union’s directives. Support for our fishing industry must not be overlooked, as our fishing and fish processing industries employ 24,000 people and contribute £1.4 billion to our economy. More data and scientific knowledge will help us to manage the fish in our own waters more accurately. With that knowledge and new management plans, we can allow the rapid growth of our own fleet and, in time, limit access for European Union vessels. More importantly, the Thames estuary and the east coast do not have good stock levels of Dover sole, one of the main species. I therefore say to my hon. Friend the Minister that we need to improve the economic output of the industry, but we also need to be environmentally sustainable to ensure that there are plentiful stocks”.
This Bill will give us a historic opportunity to advance our environmentally sustainable fishing practices and especially limit where boats over 100 metres can fish.
Sir David continued “I very much agree with the remarks made by my hon. Friends the Members for Redcar (Jacob Young) and for Waveney (Peter Aldous) about the huge vessels that we see in our marine conservation zones and marine protected areas, which are crucial to the biodiversity of our fish. Without removing the laws allowing such big boats into these particularly fragile areas, we will undoubtedly continue to see a decline in our fish stocks and long-term pollution of our environment. A recent Greenpeace investigation reports that in 2019, 25 super-trawlers, one of which was UK-owned, spent nearly 3,000 hours fishing in marine protected areas off the UK coast. That is absolutely unacceptable. One of them included a Dutch-owned 142-metre vessel that was banned from Australian waters. I want the Government to watch this situation very closely and do all they can to protect our own fish stocks.
Domestic waste such as detergents and plastics that pollute our water systems decreases the water quality around the coast and poisons our future. I hope that, when the Government get some legislative slots, they will do everything they possibly can to protect our coastline.
This is a historic moment for our country because, as an island nation, getting back control of our waters is so crucial. As far as I am concerned, however, this Bill and its Report stage are to be welcomed absolutely”.