UK Government: Fisheries Bill will create ‘sustainable, profitable’ industry

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The new Fisheries Bill will create a “sustainable, profitable fishing industry for all of the UK”, the Environment Secretary has said.

Michael Gove described the Bill as a “major milestone” which he said will create more powers for the Scottish Government and the other devolved administrations.

The Scottish Government has called on the UK Government to “respect the devolved settlement” and wants full powers transferred over all fishing policy after Brexit.

The Bill is to be introduced to the UK Parliament on Thursday and will enable the UK to “control who may fish in our waters and on what terms” for the first time since 1973, the Department for Environment and Rural Affairs (Defra) said.

The Bill also gives the UK the power to implement new deals negotiated with the EU and with other coastal states.

Defra said the Scottish Government will receive new powers to regulate its sea fisheries resources to preserve the marine environment, and powers to tackle aquatic animal diseases more quickly.

Mr Gove said: “The fishing industry is of vital importance to Scotland and that is why the Fisheries Bill, combined with our withdrawal from the EU, will give more decision-making powers to the Scottish Government.

“This new Fisheries Bill will allow us to create a sustainable, profitable fishing industry for all of the UK. It will regenerate coastal communities, take back control of our waters and, through better conservation measures, allow our precious marine environment to thrive.

“The Common Fisheries Policy has damaged the UK’s fishing industry and our precious fish stocks. The Bill will deliver a sustainable fishing industry, with healthy seas and a fair deal for UK fishermen.”

Scotland’s Fisheries Secretary Fergus Ewing said: “Let me be clear – fisheries is already a devolved matter and must remain so.

“I want the UK Government to be absolutely clear that Scotland should continue to be responsible for current decisions relating to fishermen, and that future policies are decided upon in Scotland. That is the best and only acceptable solution for the industry in Scotland.

“Nonetheless both myself and my officials will continue to work to seek a constructive set of solutions and will urge the UK Government to provide justification for its assertions.”

Bertie Armstrong, chief executive of the Scottish Fishermen’s Federation, said: “This is a necessary piece of legislation that sets a completely new framework for fisheries management outside the universally detested Common Fisheries Policy.

“Control of UK waters will no longer be exercised by the dead hand of EU bureaucracy but by our governments at Westminster and Holyrood, which we trust will work together in harmony to seize the sea of opportunity that stretches out before us.

“The Scottish Government’s own figures suggest that this could be worth an additional £540 million per year to the seafood industry plus a total of 5,000 new jobs.

“And it is accessible through an effective and reactive fisheries management regime that avoids placing unnecessary constraints on skippers and crew doing a difficult job at sea.”

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