The United Kingdom’s long-awaited new Fisheries Bill, which creates the powers for the country to operate as an independent coastal state and manage its fish stocks outside European Union rules, has been introduced to the House of Commons for its first reading.
Having passed its third reading in the House of Lords, the new legislation has gone to the Commons for further scrutiny.
As it stands, the bill seeks to end the automatic rights for E.U. vessels to fish in U.K. waters. And, if access for foreign vessels is negotiated, it will also enable fisheries administrations to ensure that foreign vessels follow the same rules as U.K. vessels.
It also aims to ensure that sensitive marine species, such as dolphins, are protected and bycatches of unwanted fish are reduced. Furthermore, U.K. fisheries administrations will be required to collect robust scientific data on fish stocks and to share this information in order to manage shared stocks sustainably.
According to the U.K. Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra), the bill will ensure that fish stocks and the marine environment are better protected for future generations with new powers to set U.K. fishing opportunities and days at sea, as well as new measures for the Devolved Administrations, and a single set of U.K.-wide fisheries objectives.
“I am encouraged to see the progress of the Fisheries Bill through Parliament. This bill offers us the opportunity to set a gold standard for sustainable fisheries and gives us the powers to protect our precious fish stocks while enabling our seafood sector to thrive,” Fisheries Minister Victoria Prentis said. “Now that we have left the E.U., we have the opportunity to create a more resilient and profitable fishing industry, leaving behind the outdated Common Fisheries Policy.”
Defra said that the bill’s provisions on sustainable fishing will be underpinned by the requirement for the U.K. government and the Devolved Administrations to publish a joint fisheries statement to coordinate fisheries management where appropriate, and fisheries management plans to achieve sustainable stocks.
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