As an island state, fishing and the fishing industry have long been prime concerns in the UK and, accordingly, this area has long been a significant part of our relationship with our European neighbours. It has also been a contentious, highly political area (even if somewhat niche) throughout our membership of the European Union. Extricating ourselves from the EU’s Common Fisheries Policy as well as developing and negotiating our post-Brexit fisheries management system and future relationship with Europe on this front will undoubtedly be challenging.
One of the Society’s Licensed Bodies, the Institute of Fisheries Management (IFM), is well-placed to advise in this area and, in June 2017, the IFM produced a position statement on fisheries post-Brexit. As an active and long-standing member of the Environmental Policy Forum (EPF), the Society was keen to assist the IFM’s work by garnering support from EPF members for the statement and collectively petition the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. This statement and the Ministerial response (from George Eustice MP, Minister of State for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food) are available to read below.
The consultation launched by Defra on its white paper, Sustainable Fisheries for Future Generations, concluded in September 2018. As part of the consultation, the Environmental Policy Forum responded to specific questions about each element of the white paper. This entailed collectively setting out the EPF’s priorities for the Fisheries Bill as well as providing recommendations for ensuring sustainability in the new system.
The EPF sent a letter to the Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, to provide an overview for the response. This can be viewed in the third section below.
A key priority set out by the EPF response was for the Fisheries Bill to clearly set out the relationship with the proposed Environment Act and establish that fisheries be subject to the jurisdictions of the new environmental governance body proposed under the EU Withdrawal Act.
The response also raised the issue of the current lack of interconnectivity between the marine, freshwater and terrestrial ecosystems. This has particularly affected the management of many migratory species, such as salmonids and eels, which are present across these systems.
The response detailed many areas in which the EPF agrees with the government white paper, as well as providing constructive alternative solutions for areas in which there is disagreement.
To see the full range of comments, suggestions and amendments to the white paper, click on the fourth section below.