MP COLUMN: We need to safeguard jobs at UK fishing ports
The Commons returned this week with the dawning realisation that the deadline for a Brexit deal is looming.
First item of business was the Fisheries Bill which creates a framework for the UK fishing industry once we have left the Common Fisheries Policy.
There’s actually a lot of agreement about the framework and the Bill, and a general acceptance that, with or without a deal, a framework will still be needed.
At the heart of the Bill is the objective of sustainability, essentially that we do not take more from the sea than can be replaced.
The under 10 metre boats have an important part to play in achieving that. They’re the backbone of the industry yet receive only 6% of fishing quota.
Increasing their share even marginally would be a big help for local boats.
The Government has had the power to do this already but have failed to do so. The new arrangements have to be better.
There is also a debate about where fish are landed. I believe as a general principle fish caught in UK waters should be landed at UK ports.
That way we safeguard and grow jobs, remembering that for every job on the catching side there are nine fishing related jobs on land.
Fishing ports need investment and I have long argued that once money from the European Fisheries Fund ends we need our own UK version.
But unless we get a deal allowing UK fishermen to sell their prawns and shellfish to Europe any new framework may have come too late.
Alan Campbell, Tynemouth MP