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Minister ignores political reality of post-Brexit fisheries deal

21 May 2020

The newly formed House of Lords European Union Environment Sub-Committee is disappointed in a Government Minister's response to concerns on negotiations over post-Brexit fishing agreements.

The Committee initially wrote to Environment Secretary George Eustice MP in March about fears raised by its inquiry into access to British waters by foreign fishing fleets after the UK's withdrawal from the European Union.

The response received from Victoria Prentis MP, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food was unsatisfactory and gave the impression that the Government is not genuinely seeking to reach a fisheries agreement. While the Committee agrees with the Minister's point that the UK will have every right to control fishing access to its waters, the Minster ignored their central contention that exercising that right comes with consequences for both the fishing industry and the wider economy.
The Committee was particularly concerned that the Minister's response conflated negotiations on Total Allowable Catches and negotiations on access rights, and was "surprised" that she dismissed experts' concerns  about the potential  impact of Brexit on fishing and aquaculture as "hypothetical", particularly in the context of the additional challenges posed by COVID-19.
The Committee's newly appointed Chair, Lord Teverson has asked the Minister to write to them again about the current state of play in the fisheries negotiations and whether she believes agreement will be reached by 1 July.

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