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Craig Mackinlay calls for ‘clear commitment’ to fishing post-Brexit

PUBLISHED: 09:46 12 September 2017

Fisherman emptying catch

Fisherman emptying catch

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The South Thanet MP supported the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill but raised some concerns

The government needs to make a “clear commitment” to help rejuvenate Kent’s fishing industry after Brexit, an MP has said.

Particularly in coastal areas of the county, leaving the EU was seen as an opportunity to regain control over fishing waters and break free from the controversial Common Fisheries Policy.

However, industry experts have previously said elements of the CFP could be retained even after leaving in 2019, fearing it is not high enough on the government’s agenda compared to issues such as immigration.

A particular gripe among fishermen is quotas - known as the toal allowable catch - which were introduced as part of the CFP to ensure protection of key fish levels to guard against over-fishing.

Each country is given a total amount it can fish in certain waters and that is then divided or traded among the member states.

In addition, there are regulations over the size of each species caught to ensure fishermen do not kill young fish which will eventually breed to keep levels sustained.

Craig Mackinlay supported the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill - which aims to transfer thousands of pieces EU law into British legislation - as it passed the first hurdle in the House of Commons on Monday night, but the South Thanet MP said he wanted to see the entire fisheries acquis exempt from the bill as it progresses through parliament, and produce a new bill in its place.

He said: “Fishing is the area in which the British people demand a clean Brexit, and I think they will accept nothing less.

“Fishing must not be used as part of a trade-off, and availability must not form part of a deal elsewhere.

“Control of our exclusive economic zone extending to 200 nautical miles or the median line will regenerate our coastal communities, but if we follow current fisheries policy, we will certainly fail to do that.

“It is quite odd that we commit vast amounts of cash to communities such as mine in Ramsgate, Broadstairs and parts of Margate through the Coastal Communities Fund - I am thankful that we do - but we seem to have no clear commitment to the one thing that could provide great rejuvenation for our coastal communities, which are recognised as having lower rates of employment, and which are in need of restructuring and infrastructure.

“On this subject, the electorate are very wary of shenanigans. We cannot afford to create failure, and it is our responsibility to make this a success.

“I am happy to trust the government by supporting second reading, but I would very much like to hear more about their proposals for restoring one of this nation’s finest treasures - our very positive fishing grounds, which have the potential to benefit our communities and should never have been taken away.

“The whole issue of our fishing policy encompasses a lot of what was wrong with our membership of the European Union, which would not listen to us.

“The bill represents a great opportunity for our coastal communities. I intend to deliver a good fishing policy for our under-10 metre fleet, which is particularly prevalent in Ramsgate, so I will support this bill.”

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