Thank you for contacting me about sustainable fishing in British waters.
Our waters are a precious natural resource and they must be managed carefully. Our coastal communities and the biodiversity of the ocean depend on good and sustainable management of our fisheries.
Under the Fisheries Act 2020, all vessels fishing commercially in UK waters must have a licence, issued by the relevant licensing authority, to do so. In order to ensure that all vessels operating in UK waters do so under the same rules, these licences have a set of conditions specifying the area in which fishing is authorised, the time period permitting for fishing, the quantities and description of which species may be caught and the permitted fishing method. These conditions can be amended at any time where it is considered that there is need to do so in order to protect certain fish stocks.
The Fisheries Act enshrines the Government’s commitment to sustainable fishing through its objectives and fisheries statements, which introduce Fisheries Management Plans (FMPs) to restore our fish stocks to sustainable levels. The draft Joint Fisheries Statement (JFS) commits the UK Government and Devolved Administrations to work together to adopt an ‘ecosystem-based approach’ to fisheries that will underpin a vibrant, profitable fishing industry resilient to climate change. The JFS includes a list of proposed FMPs to be published by the UK Administrations.
Furthermore, the Act contains a ‘bycatch objective’ seeking to reduce the wasteful practice of discarding fish; an ‘ecosystem objective’ to implement an ecosystem-based approach to fisheries management, so as to ensure that negative impacts on marine ecosystems are minimised, and, where possible, reversed; and a new ‘climate change objective’ which recognises and seeks to reduce the impact of fishing on the health of our oceans and our planet.
The UK is a global leader in protecting its ocean and marine life. Since 2010, 100 additional Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) have been introduced, which now protect 38 per cent of UK waters. These MPAs are subject to planning and licensing regimes to protect them from damaging activities and further plans to manage fishing activity are being developed. The Government’s £500 million Blue Planet Fund will help some of the world’s poorest communities to protect the ocean from plastic pollution, overfishing and habitat loss. In August 2021, Ministers announced the first five programmes under the Blue Planet Fund totalling £16.2 million of funding.
Thank you again for taking the time to contact me.
With best wishes.
Jonathan Lord MP
Member of Parliament for Woking