Since my election to parliament, I have have been a passionate advocate for our oceans and environment. Our waters are a precious natural resource and I believe they must be managed carefully. While Mid Sussex is landlocked, our neighbouring coastal communities and the biodiversity of the ocean depend on good and sustainable management of our fisheries. Therefore, we all have an interest.
Let me assure those who have contacted me that, 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: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/sustainable-fisheries-enshrined-in-law-as-uk-leaves-the-eu. 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 permitted 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 to protect certain fish stocks.
I was pleased 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 Joint Fisheries Statement (JFS) sets the direction of fisheries management in the UK in the coming years. I am aware that the four fisheries administrations have worked together to develop shared policies which will deliver the eight objectives set out in the Fisheries Act: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/joint-fisheries-statement-jfs
Crucially, the Act also 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.
I am determined the UK continues to be a global leader in protecting its ocean and marine life. Therefore, I am delighted to see that government has built a comprehensive network of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) in English waters and are focused on ensuring that they are properly protected. Nearly 60 per cent of the 178 English MPAs are already protected from damaging fishing activity and Ministers are aiming for all MPAs in English waters to be protected from such activity by 2024: https://www.mimsdavies.org.uk/news/government-sets-out-marine-commitments-mark-world-ocean-day
Furthermore, 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: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/blue-planet-fund/blue-planet-fund
You can read more about my work on the environment and our oceans here: