Fisheries Bill introduced to parliament
The UK government has unveiled new proposals for sustainable fishing practices after Brexit in its Fisheries Bill today, which would end the automatic right for EU vessels to fish in British waters.
The bill includes a legal guarantee that the UK will leave the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) at the end of the Brexit transition period, scheduled for 31 December 2020.
It would be the first time since 1973 that Britain is able to decide who can fish in its waters and on what terms, allowing the country to set its own quotas.
The legislation also includes new measures for devolved governments, and a single set of UK-wide goals to ensure fisheries balance social, economic, and employment benefits while preventing the over exploitation of fish stocks.
Moreover, it sets out new provisions that take into account climate change impacts on fisheries, intending to deliver ‘climate-smart' fishing practices.
Environment secretary Theresa Villiers said that leaving the EU’s “failed” CFP is one of the most important benefits of Brexit.
“It means we can create a fairer system which will allow marine habitats to thrive, with new powers to support our fishing sector and conserve our wonderful blue belt at home and abroad,” she continued.
“This new Fisheries Bill takes back control of our waters, enabling the UK to create a sustainable, profitable fishing industry for our coastal communities, whilst securing the long-term health of British fisheries.”
Foreign boats must be licensed to fish in UK waters under the new rules, which also intent to ensure sensitive marine species, such as dolphins, are protected, and that the bycatch of unwanted fish is reduced.
Changes to funding rules enabling the government to provide financial support for what is currently funded by the EU’s European Maritime and Fisheries Fund, such as training and port improvements, are also included in the bill.
The WWF welcomed today's legislation, but said that all fishing boats in UK waters must be fitted with CCTV cameras to monitor catches and practices.
“If legally binding, sustainable fishing limits are introduced, we urgently need compulsory onboard cameras to help monitor and enforce them,” said WWF fisheries programme manager, Helen McLachlan.
“The new plans for fish stock recovery are a step in the right direction, but they must be ambitious, implemented quickly and backed by investment, if we’re going to achieve true ocean recovery.”
Image credit: iStock
Chris Seekings is a reporter for TRANSFORM