I totally agree about how important it is we have control over our waters. I have recently been to visit many local fishermen – including Sion Riley whose inspirational lockdown story is a reminder to us all what a little optimism and support in times of trouble can do. However, the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) has failed people like him and so I am pleased to see an end to the dictatorship of EU fishing policy and a rejuvenation of the industry once the Fisheries Bill is passed.
I am delighted that in withdrawing from the EU the UK will be leaving the CFP and be able to negotiate access to waters and fishing opportunities as an independent coastal state. The Fisheries Bill will enable the UK to control who may fish in our waters, and on what terms, for the first time since 1973.
This Bill will deliver on the Government’s commitment to sustainable fishing and conservation of the marine environment. It will end the automatic right for EU vessels to fish in UK waters, making fishing access a matter for us to negotiate and set terms, so any foreign vessels will have to follow our rules. It will allow us to set our own fishing quota and days at sea, negotiating independently in consultation with the Devolved Administrations.
The Government has also committed to increasing funding for fisheries across the UK’s nations throughout the current Parliament, and to support the regeneration of our coastal communities.
Ministers have consistently said that they will not compromise UK sovereignty over our own fishing waters. The Government has been clear throughout the negotiation process that access to the UK’s territorial seas is out of scope for any fisheries framework agreement with the EU and any access negotiated will cover only the UK’s exclusive economic zone, and not the 0 to 12-mile zone. I believe that this is clearly in the interests of the whole of the UK and delivers on what the British people voted for.