Minister ignoring political reality of post-Brexit fisheries deal, say ‘disappointed' Peers
Peers have expressed disappointment at a government minister's failure to engage with concerns about negotiations over post-Brexit fishing agreements.
The House of Lords European Union Environment Sub-Committee wrote to Environment Secretary George Eustice in March about fears raised by its inquiry into access to British waters by foreign fishing fleets in the wake of withdrawal from the EU.
The committee has told Defra minister Victoria Prentis that her reply “ignores the political reality” after she claimed that there was “ample time” to strike a deal.
Lord Teverson, chair of the committee, told the minister in a letter that:
“We are, frankly, disappointed by your response. It gives the impression that you are not genuinely seeking to reach a fisheries agreement, nor to engage with the Committee's concerns.
“You argue that the UK will have every right to control fishing access to its waters. This is of course true.
“However, in making that argument you ignore our central contention that exercising that right comes with consequences for both the fishing industry and the wider economy that you entirely fail to acknowledge.”
Lord Teverson's letter also told the minister that:
- Her response “conflated” negotiations on Total Allowable Catches and those on access rights. The committee wants the minister to deal with both separately and inform it of her position on each;
- Peers were “surprised” that she dismissed experts' concerns about the potential impact of COVID-19 and Brexit on fishing and aquaculture as “hypothetical”.
Lord Teverson has asked the minister for an update on the current state of play in the fisheries negotiations and whether she believes there will be an agreement by 1 July, the date by which both sides pledged to try to reach a deal.
The committee's letter is online here.