The UK Government has just announced its intention to withdraw from the outdated London Fisheries Convention. The UK became a signatory to the London Convention in 1964, giving French, German, Dutch, Irish and Belgian vessels access to our 6-12 mile zone. As Fisheries Minister, I am pleased that we are taking this important step towards building our own domestic fishing policy as we leave the European Union and the Common Fisheries Policy.
Here in Cornwall, leaving the EU creates opportunities for our fishermen. We will be able to re-establish national control for fisheries management out to 200 nautical miles or the median line as provided for in international law. We will then negotiate new access and quota sharing arrangements that are fairer to our fishermen.
There has long been an historical injustice in quota allocations to the UK fleet. In 2015 the UK allocation of Cod was just 834 tonnes compared to 5,500 for France. For Plaice in the Channel it was 1,300 tonnes for the UK, but 2,600 for France. Many local fishermen feel frustrated that they sometimes have to tie up their boats because they have run out of quota but they see French vessels continuing to fish in Cornish waters. Taking back control of our fishing grounds will give us the opportunity to revisit quota allocations and make things fairer.
However, I have also always been clear that the UK will continue to be a world leader in promoting sustainable fisheries and we will continue to cooperate with all our neighbours. We will not allow a free for all and one of the conditions of any future access we grant will be that all vessels fish sustainably and within limits to protect our marine environment.
Last week my article on parking fines sparked a debate especially about the approach taken by Veor Surgery. Since then my office has been contacted by several other individuals, all of whom have reported attending a late running doctors’ appointment before being stung with huge fines that no one would discuss with them. I hope Veor change the way they operate in future so that their patients will no longer have to endure the stress of being hounded by these parking companies.