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Britain can be global leader in sustainable fishing after Brexit - Lords

  • Government urged to be “more ambitious" on tracking technology 
  • Peers sound warning over fish quotas
  • Devolved administrations should be in the room for UK-EU fishing negotiations

Britain could become a world leader in sustainable fishing after Brexit, protecting fish stocks, seas and livelihoods a committee of Peers has said.

Peers have urged the government to ensure that high-tech video cameras and sensors to monitor and pinpoint vessels' activities at sea must be fitted to all foreign boats fishing in UK waters after Britain leaves the European Union.

Setting out its key findings on UK-EU fisheries negotiations in a letter to Environment Secretary George Eustice, the House of Lords EU Energy and Environment Sub-Committee says that Remote Electronic Monitoring (REM) will be “crucial” to ensure sustainable fishing:

“Leaving the EU is an opportunity for the UK to become a global leader in sustainable fishing.

“We urge you to be more ambitious regarding REM and to publicly commit to a deadline by which all vessels fishing in UK waters will have to have the technology in use."

The Secretary of State appeared before the committee on 4 March as part of its inquiry into what the UK should aim for in its negotiations with the EU on post-Brexit access to its waters.

The committee highlights the “challenging timeline” for negotiations:

“We have concerns about the time available for negotiations. The UK will come under pressure to make concessions in order to secure a trade agreement. 

“The Government must give serious consideration to the economic impact of its negotiating positions on both the fishing industry and the wider UK economy.”

UK proposals for a new method of dividing fishing quotas - legal  limits on the amount of fish that can be caught  -  are justified but could be another obstacle.

“Even if negotiations are successful, there could be repercussions at sea if elements of the fishing industry are dissatisfied with the quota settlement,” says the committee.

The committee's letter sets out other key findings including: 

  • Devolved administrations should be in the room for negotiations on the UK-EU fishing agreement; 
  • There are significant potential benefits for the UK's inshore fishing fleet by reducing foreign access to the 6-12 mile zone;
  • Multi-annual fishing plans may be a way to resolve one of the main fisheries disagreements in the UK-EU negotiations.

The letter to the Secretary of State is online at: https://committees.parliament.uk/download/file/?url=/publications/346/documents/1366&slug=LTtoGEaccesstoUKfisheries110320pdf

The committee has heard also from the fishing industry, academics and political experts. 

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