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Select Committee on the European Union

Environment Sub-Committee

Corrected oral evidence: Access to UK fisheries post Brexit

Wednesday 13 January 2021

10 am

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Members present: Lord Teverson (The Chair); Baroness Brown of Cambridge; Baroness Bryan of Partick; Lord Cameron of Dillington; Lord Carter of Coles; Lord Cormack; Baroness Jolly; Baroness McIntosh of Pickering; The Duke of Montrose; The Earl of Stair; Lord Young of Norwood Green.

Evidence Session No. 5              Virtual Proceeding              Questions 37 – 42



I: Lisa McGuinness, Head of Marine Scotland Compliance; Phil Haslam, Director of Operations, Marine Management Organisation.





Examination of witnesses

Lisa McGuinness and Phil Haslam.

Q37            The Chair: Welcome, everybody, to the House of Lords EU Environment Sub-Committee. Today, we have two witness sessions in our inquiry on access to fisheries post Brexit. They will also contribute to our report on the future of UK-EU relations in the area of environment, energy and health, which we will publish around Easter time.

Our first session is with Marine Scotland and the Marine Management Organisation. I remind everybody that this is a public session. It is being webcast live. We are taking a transcript. If there is anything in that transcript that our witnesses think is inaccurate, please let us know, and it can be changed. I ask Members to declare any interests that they have. They only need to do that in one of the sessions; perhaps they could do it when they first speak. I am chair of the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Local Nature Partnership.

I very much welcome the Marine Management Organisation and Marine Scotland here this morning. May I ask our two witnesses—Lisa McGuinness and Phil Haslamto briefly introduce themselves?

Lisa McGuinness: Good morning. I am one of the deputy directors at Marine Scotland, which is responsible for the management of Scotlands seas.

Phil Haslam: Good morning. I am the operations director at the Marine Management Organisation, which is the national body that manages English seas, including fisheries activities.

Q38            The Chair: Thank you, both. As regards who answers what questions, it will be useful, as there are only two witnesses, for you both to answer the questions. If one of you particularly wants to jump in first, please do, otherwise Members will say who they want to answer first.

Perhaps we can start with something general to get us going. We are now in day 13 of the new regime of being outside the transition period, the single market and the customs union. What are the key challenges for Marine Scotland and the Marine Management Organisation that arise from the Trade and Cooperation Agreement that the UK now has with the EU? It would perhaps be useful to remind people listening that fisheries is very much a devolved issue, and Scotland and England have their own enforcement regimes. Lisa, would you like to start?

Lisa McGuinness: Due to the lateness of the deal being struck, and having very little time to follow on from that, the biggest challenge we have had in the early stages has been the licensing of EU vessels working in Scottish waters. For the first time, EU vessels have needed a licence. It is fair to say that the four nations have worked closely together, and under a significant amount of pressure, to issue temporary licences on the same day as the lists came in from the EU. That all happened on 30 and 31 December. We also had to undertake verification of UK vessels that were planning to operate in EU waters. That was all undertaken efficiently. We are now working to ensure that full licence applications are all processed in good time. That has been a fairly significant challenge for us.

In Scottish waters, all licences now follow the same domestic conditions. That brings a new level playing field across the fleets that are fishing in our waters and means that we have to undertake fairly significant education and support to vessels that might find themselves needing to operate in a slightly different way to meet those licence conditions. We are doing that in a number of ways, in line with our normal operational procedures. We are undertaking routine boardings and inspections. We are promoting them through social media, and through our interactions at ports and harbours.

As with all new processes, there is a period of education and smoothing out, which I alluded to. Vessels landing in the EU now need to follow certain procedures that we have to facilitate. That is taking a bit longer than we would normally have found before, so it puts a bit of additional pressure on our staff and, for example, our Fisheries Monitoring Centre. We have recruited some additional temporary staff to support in that area.

Obviously, we are aware of challenges later in the supply chain, beyond our responsibilities. We have been supporting colleagues in food and drink and food standards, and in transport, trying to help smooth out that journey, with education and support and trying to get a bit of intelligence and information on the ground. The challenges have been in getting used to the new processes, and educating and supporting the industry in what we are doing beyond the licences. I am sure Phil has more to add from an English perspective.

The Chair: Thank you, Lisa.

Phil Haslam: I would echo quite a lot of what Lisa has just said. Annex 4 of the Trade and Cooperation Agreement signals what is dubbed the adjustment period. It is a continuation of access and fishing opportunities for the time being. As Lisa alluded to, one of the key challenges was to ensure that those who had brokered access to our waters indeed had it.

In preparing to take back control of our waters, and to have sole responsibility for the management of our waters, for the activities within them and the integrity of our EEZ, we had planned across a suite of scenarios, but as soon as the deal was manifest we worked very quickly across the devolved administrations, and with the EU, to issue licences to European vessels to access our waters, but only the 12 to 200 nautical miles zone of them, and likewise for UK vessels that wished to fish in EU waters. Those licences were issued at the first moment possible. We could only do it as a sovereign state at one minute past 11 on New Years Eve. During the period from about 11 o’clock to half-past 11 on New Years Eve, 1,304 EU vessels and 1,012 UK vessels were licensed to enable them to access the waters to go about their business.

The next level of that is licensing to come into the 6 to 12 nautical mile zone, which has been agreed in the Trade and Cooperation Agreement. That is slightly more complex and takes a bit more work, but that work is in hand and ongoing to permit access both ways to vessels that want it. That was one of the challenges.

The other challenge is to communicate to people what is in the TCA. It is relatively intuitive, but there is a nuance to it, and that nuance is being worked through. Once we have worked through it, we will implement it across the piece. There is the access through licensing, but then there is fishing opportunity—making sure that we have agreed the quotas for the year, so that people can go about their business and fish. Once again, that process is ongoing at the moment. There are provisional total allowable catches being put in place to enable fishing activity to go ahead, and the finalised quotas will be agreed in due course.

The Chair: Could we have a couple of clarifications? Do you have any timescale for when those quotas will be firmed up and agreed for the year as a whole?

Phil Haslam: The provisional quotas will be firmed up very shortly. There is a process of negotiation with the European Union, and indeed with other neighbouring states, to make sure that the final quotas are nailed down, but that will be a matter of weeks.

The Chair: Have the EU licensing authorities, which are obviously nationally based, been on the ball as much as we have in granting UK vessels those licences?

Phil Haslam: It was very much a joint endeavour. It had to be. They drew up a list of vessels requiring access to our waters, and we did likewise. We exchanged and ratified those lists, to make sure that they made sense, and we issued on the basis of that. That was the activity on New Years Eve. The door remains open. Any UK vessels that for some reason were not on that list could retrospectively apply to be on it. Post the initial issuing of the list and the licences, we have been able to add people to it. Yes, to your question; relations with the EU and the transactions to enable fishing activity have been good so far.

The Chair: I was surprised that there is a difference between licensing for the territorial waters as opposed to our EEZ. Why is there that difference? You were saying that one is more difficult to sort out.

Phil Haslam: It is just agreeing the qualification criteria. Although it states in the Trade and Cooperation Agreement that you have to have fished within those waters in four out of five years from 2012 to 2016, it is a question of the level of fishing. Is that one day in four years or is it a succession? It is just making sure that it is fair and equitable for those who secure access to our waters.

The Chair: Lisa, one of the important things, particularly for the Scottish fleet, is the Norwegian catch. We had access to those waters under an EU agreement. I know that a framework agreement has been agreed, but is anything happening at the moment as regards that activity?

Lisa McGuinness: I understand that the trilaterals started this week, and negotiations will continue over the coming weeks. We expect all of that to be sorted within a matter of days and weeks, to allow reciprocal access to Norwegian and Faroese waters as well. As Phil mentioned, the three fleetsNorwegian, Faroese and UK Scottishhave been very much behaving at the moment, remaining in their own waters while those negotiations are ongoing. We continue to have a good operational relationship across those three countries, to make sure that that is the case. Negotiations are under way and we hope that we will have them finalised soon. I do not want to put my colleagues under too much pressure, so I will say weeks rather than days, but, hopefully, sooner rather than later.

The Chair: Thank you.

Q39            Lord Carter of Coles: What resources do you have at your disposal to monitor fishing activity in Scottish and English waters respectively, and to enforce the rules? Do you think there is a shortfall now and in the coming years? May we take a couple of issues? One is staff, and perhaps you could also say something about aerial surveillance and drones and things like that.

Lisa McGuinness: As we mentioned at the start, marine protection is fully devolved. Scotland has 62% of the total UK waters, so we believe it is really important that we have the resources to deploy effectively across that area. To make everybody aware, Marine Scotland has three marine protection vessels. They are capable of patrolling up to about 200 nautical miles offshore, so are capable of patrolling the whole of the UK EEZ. We have further supplemented those vessels with two inshore small craftRIBsand those RIBs allow us to effectively monitor and protect the inshore environment. They are fully mobile and we can transport them around different parts of the country.

We have two aircraft, two Cessna Caravan IIs, and they are capable of patrolling up to 1,150 nautical miles, ensuring that all the limits are effectively monitored. We have a number of offices spread throughout Scotland, which are all staffed by warranted officers and supported by a number of central teams, including the UK Fisheries Monitoring Centre, which Marine Scotland hosts on behalf of the UK. They carry out 24/7 monitoring of our waters, and provide education and support on a call centre basis to vessels in our waters and to all UK vessels.

As part of our preparations for exiting the EU, we invested heavily in the capacity and capability of our vessels and aircraft. We have installed additional surveillance capability on all marine protection vessels. We have additional FLIR camera technology, which allows us much better surveillance, for example, at night, and from a greater distance. We have increased the capacity of our second aircraft. We have installed a new FLIR camera on that, which takes it up to the same spec as our first aircraft. As I mentioned, we have added the two inshore protection vessels, and that has allowed us to free up the offshore vessels, away from the inshore areas, to be much more offshore.

Looking forward, Marine Scotland is currently undertaking a fleet replacement programme, which is looking at our future needs in both fisheries protection and marine environment protection, in support of the Scottish Governments approach to the blue economy. That is an ongoing programme, and we are in its design stages at the minute.

On shortfalls, leaving the European Union has meant the loss of some EMFF money, of which we received just over £5 million last year for control and enforcement activity. That money supported, in the main, updating our IT estate, to support a much more data-driven approach to compliance. It also supported our joint operational deployments. We are very hopeful that the EMFF replacement fund that UK Treasury is providing will continue to support our improvement programmes, which we think are vital for ensuring our demand for the future.

You mentioned things such as drone technology or UAVs—unmanned aerial vehicles. We are looking at how they could provide additional support for the work we do. We are looking at the deployment of further mobile and static surveillance cameras around our ports and harbours and, potentially, around our marine protected areas. We are also looking at more remote monitoring of fishing vessels themselves. We have undertaken a trial on scallop dredgers, using remote electronic monitoring, and we are looking to try to progress that further, with the use of sensors and, potentially, artificial intelligence. We want to do that improvement in line with local industries and communities. We work very closely with community groups, which are very conscious of the marine environment.

I think that gives you a flavour of the assets that we have at our disposal, and perhaps a look to the future as to how we want to continue to enhance and improve what we do.

Lord Carter of Coles: So far so good, but you are looking forward to the financial settlement to see what additional resources you might get. Thank you.

Phil Haslam: The MMO built from a historically low baseline. In 2018, we were contracted with the Fishery Protection Squadron of the Royal Navy and we had one vessel for 80 days a year. Noting the risk that could present itself around the end of the EU exit period, we developed, jointly with the DAs, a risk matrix and upon that built an operational capability. Today, we have four patrol vessels on the water, two of which are contracted vessels manned by MMO officials, so we do the assurance work at sea, and they are supplemented by two Royal Navy Batch 1 offshore patrol vessels. They are manned by RN crews, but they operate on our behalf. On the water, we had 80 days previously and we are now at over 500 days of patrol capability at sea. That is the core laydown of what we have. That has been supplemented through the high-risk period. Shall I continue or respond to the question?

Lord Carter of Coles: Please go on.

Phil Haslam: That has been supplemented through this high-risk period by additional contingency resource that the Ministry of Defence and the Royal Navy provide. We have two additional offshore patrol vessels upon which we can call. One of those has been patrolling at sea, plus inshore vessels from the Royal NavyP2000s—and they have been supplemented with Royal Navy boarding teams and naval aviation assets. There is a suite of surface surveillance capability.

We have also brought on board 50 additional warranted officers to bolster our capability. As we are going to sea as an organisation, and that is a departure for us, we did not want to hollow out our offices ashore by sending people to sea, so we supplemented there. Key to that, we have reintroduced aerial surveillance over English waters. We have a joint contract with the Maritime and Coastguard Agency for fixed-wing aircraft to patrol our waters. They are based out of Doncaster but forward base to Newquay when we need them to, and they can cover the majority of English waters at pace. We are flying those twice a day at the moment. That is what we judge appropriate as core capability. At least three vessels on the water, plus the aeroplanes and the additional officers, is, we judge, appropriate capability for an independent coastal state going forward. That is what we have bid for through the spending round and what we seek to continue with.

Lisa mentioned innovative technologies, and we are in the same place. We have trialled remote electronic monitoring on a fleet in the North Sea for the last eight years. We will be looking to roll that out further, in step with the policy lead on that. Similarly, of late, we have been using drone technology from the Royal Navy, and we are plugged in to the cross-government UAVunmanned aerial vehicleproject to see what utility that can offer us. That is core capability.

It is not only that; the small inshore fisheries and conservation authorities operate vessels in their own right. We have memoranda of understanding with them all. Indeed, we have deployed some of their vessels during this period to give us cover, both in the offshore sector with the larger vessels, and in the inshore sector with the IFCAs. To make sure that we are not operating in isolation, all of this is joined up by the Joint Maritime Security Centre, which spans the whole of the maritime security tapestry of the UK. We plug into that, and, indeed, that system has been subject to significant scrutiny to make sure that if something begins with a fisheries event, but turns into something very different, the right agency is at the right readiness to respond. All of that has been built and tested throughout this preparation period. There is quite a tapestry.

Lord Carter of Coles: Thank you, both. That is very reassuring. All to play for in the spending review, as ever.

Baroness Brown of Cambridge: I have a very quick question to Phil. Do you have a sense of the additional cost of all the new and expanded capability that you will need?

Phil Haslam: There has been an investment of £32 million over two years to build this capability. When I first came in, we had something in the order of £2 million to spend on this capability. We have taken that to £16 million, so there has been a significant investment to recognise our new status as an independent coastal state with sole responsibility for both policing and managing our waters.

Baroness Brown of Cambridge: And an ongoing increased operational cost, presumably.

Phil Haslam: Yes.

Baroness Brown of Cambridge: Of what sort of scale?

Phil Haslam: It will be similar. The capability we are putting out at the moment costs about £16 million a year.

Baroness Brown of Cambridge: An additional cost of £16 million a year. Thank you very much.

The Chair: Lisa, does Marine Scotland have a figure as well, just for information?

Lisa McGuinness: Our annual operating budget is in the region of £23 million for our compliance and enforcement activity, but that includes the management of our research vessels. It is probably in similar termsprobably about £19 million or £20 million for control and enforcement activity.

The Chair: Is that an increase on previously, or roughly the same?

Lisa McGuinness: It is probably roughly the same year on year. We have managed to get some capital spend to invest in the additional surveillance equipment, but the patrol vessels have always been there, and the small craft that we use as part of the science operations in Marine Scotland as well, so that has not come at any additional cost to us. We have managed to absorb it in our staffing.

The Chair: Thank you.

Lord Young of Norwood Green: I am a Labour backbench Peer. I have two quick questions. The answers from both Phil and Lisa seemed to suggest a gradual rollout of REM. Phil referred to the policy, and Lisa, as I understood it, you said you were working with local fishers. I would welcome a bit more information on when you think every vessel will be equipped with REM.

There is a second question. It was reported in the press that some fishers are rather jealous of guarding their locations and are wont to turn off their transponders, so finding out exactly where they are is a bit of a problem. Have you encountered that problem, and do you have the means of dealing with it?

The Chair: Could we have very brief answers? The mention of REM warms the cockles of this Committees heart, in that it advocated it. Phil, do you want to start very briefly on those two questions?

Phil Haslam: I cannot give an answer as to absolutely when, but the eight years of the trial that we have been conducting have given us a huge database for its utility, not only for compliance reasons but for scientific reasonsstock management and the like. Its utility is recognised. We are well aware of it. It is just a matter of the methodology of actually rolling it out. I am sorry I cannot give you a precise date at the moment.

On the second issue about obscured or switched-off transponders, on occasion, yes, that is there, but the power of both aerial and at-sea surveillance is that there are other mechanisms. Although it is a requirement for vessels of 12 metres and above to have the vessel-monitoring system switched on while they are conducting fishing operations and at sea, and indeed an automated information system is a requirement for vessels of 300 gross registered tonnes and above, both of those can be variable for various reasons. They can be switched on but the range is not quite what you would want, so it is not received. While some may choose to switch them off on occasion, we have aerial surveillance that can build a picture for us without relying on remotely sourced data. There is a way to mitigate that risk. It is not a predominant issue.

The Chair: We will move on to some of those issues a bit later.

Lisa McGuinness: To follow up, Marine Scotland has just undertaken an informal discussion across industry and stakeholders about our future fisheries management, and REM forms a big part of the recommendations flowing from that. Like Phil, I would not want to put a time on anything. The pandemic has affected how we wanted to roll things out this year, but REM forms a massive part of our future fisheries management strategy. We are now looking beyond the scallop fleet to the pelagic vessels and the conditions that might apply there. We are about to move on to the next stages of that consultation. REM certainly forms a big part of our future.

I think Phil has covered everything on VMS and AIS. We work with other agencies and across the JMSC as well. We have various capabilities to support us in that, including the use of satellites, as Phil said, and aerial surveillance, et cetera. We have a way of identifying dark targets, as we call them, but the ability to switch off is an ongoing issue, as are systems issues with transponders.

The Chair: Thank you very much. Let us move on to Lord Cameron. Could we keep the answers fairly short so that we can get through the rest of the session?

Q40            Lord Cameron of Dillington: My question is on the other side of the equation to the last one. What resources do you have to ensure that our vessels are complying with the rules when they are fishing in EU waters, which is an obligation under the Agreement?

Phil Haslam: First and foremost, it is a matter for the master of the fishing vessel to understand what rules they should abide by when they are in those waters. That is where the requirement stands. We will, as we do, support the industry in understanding what the rules are. Our compliance strategy starts with inform and educate, and that is what we will do. We will make sure that people are abreast of any changes and are armed with the information. We will continue to do that.

Through my ops room in Newcastle, we continually monitor vessels that are operating in EU waters, and, similarly, Lisas ops room in Edinburgh will keep an eye on that. It is just to make sure that we are able to monitor their activities within EU waters. EU Member States will take control and enforcement activity within their waters, but there is a very firm handshake between neighbouring fisheries authorities. If there is any non-compliant behaviour or any misunderstanding, the operational collaboration route is open and we can exchange information. If they request us to take action, either to advise or anything further than that, we will be receptive to that.

Lisa McGuinness: I completely concur with everything Phil said. To reiterate the point, we have worked very closely with Norway and the Faroes for some time. The relationships we have there and have learned from there have very much put us into a good place as regards our vessels landing into the EU. The UK Fisheries Monitoring Centre works very closely with the other FMCs across the Member States. We engage when there is suspicion of any sort of illegal activity. We can speak to our vessels or encourage the Member State to do so.

We have recent examples. We have produced some very helpful guides about what you should know. We have done that for the Norwegian waters and for the pelagic fleet recently. We have worked with the pelagic fishermens association to pull together a one-pager to help with education and support, as Phil said. We are hoping to continue doing that for vessels fishing in EU waters as well. We are very much in the promotion space to provide education and support.

The Duke of Montrose: I declare an interest in having some freshwater fishery interests.

If you run into somebody who is simply refusing to comply with these things, what sanctions can you apply, both in our waters and anywhere else? You mentioned boarding, but can you confiscate gear or ban people from coming back? How do you expect to enforce with difficult customers?

The Chair: Lisa, could you answer briefly, and concentrate on the differences before and after, if there are any?

Lisa McGuinness: I do not think there are any real changes before and after. There is a range of sanctions that we can apply to vessels fishing in our waters. As I said earlier, we are now fully aligned with domestic legislation. Those sanctions can range from an advisory warning or a verbal re-brief, where we educate and say, “Please dont do it again”, all the way through to prosecution and penalty notices being applied. There can also be restrictions placed on licences.

One of the things we still need to bottom out in the negotiations is exactly what restrictions may be put on licences, with licences potentially being revoked, dependent on what the conditions are for that. They might determine revocation of licences or certain rights to do things in our waters that we might want to look at as we progress the licensing situation. I have colleagues who are much more knowledgeable about the licensing side of things than I am, but that is my understanding of where we might be going forward. I do not know if Phil wants to say any more.

Phil Haslam: I concur with that. As a proportionate regulator, we have a suite of sanctions we can apply, as Lisa said, from a verbal update or re-brief through to full prosecution. For somebody who repeatedly breaks the rules, one of the qualification criteria to gaining an authorisation to fish in our waters is whether the vessel is repeatedly conducting unlawful business. That will be a factor in determining whether it is permitted access or not. As an independent coastal state, that is the bit we can control. If it is proven that someone’s activities are outwith the rules, we have the latitude to remove them.

Q41            Baroness McIntosh of Pickering: I am a non-practising member of the Faculty of Advocates and a former chair of the EFRA Committee in the Commons.

Could I ask Phil to comment first and then Lisa? Phil, you already mentioned how you are communicating, and you are working through the nuances. Could you say a little more as to what reaction you have had from the fishing industry and what further communication activities you both envisage?

The flip-side is what representations you have received from industry about the new rules. May I ask in particular about how the inshore fishermen have reacted? My understanding was that we did not need to leave the European Union to increase the quota for the inshore fishermen. They must be absolutely aghast at the fact that we have failed to protect the 6 to 12-mile limit. If you could comment on those two aspects, I would be very grateful.

Phil Haslam: In business readiness terms, we were communicating with the industry all the way through autumn 2020. One of our key documents is what we call the MMO one-stop shop, which is a suite of advice and information that goes through everything, from catching opportunities, through to exporting, liaising with customs and getting export health certificates. That is what we have done to try to promote business readiness as much as we can, to situate people in the new operating environment. That was a separate activity that was going on.

On your question about the receipt of the deal, I think there has been cross-industry disappointment, frustration and a degree of dismay at what has been delivered so far, but it is so far, because we are into an adjustment period of five and a half years, when there is, necessarily, a transition period in moving towards new operating. Between now and 1 July 2026, when that period ends, will give us a period to settle into the new thing of negotiating annual fishing opportunities, accepting the increased quota that has come through as part of the TCA and allocating that proportionately across businesses to make sure that fishing opportunities are fair and equitable. All of that is the opportunity that presents itself going forward.

The representations we have had about the TCA are relatively low. Organisations such as the NFFO and the Scottish Fisheries Federation have published on their websites their opinion of it, but I am not getting a lot of feedback of, I don’t understand the rules. I don’t know what I am meant to be doing, because annex 4 of the TCA keeps things pretty much the same as at the moment. The body of the common fisheries policy has been rolled into national law, and those are the regulations that people are operating to at the moment, until such time as we choose to amend them nationally.

We are getting a degree of pushback right now on the ability to trade. There are frictions in trade, both in learning what needs to be done and whether all the processes put in place complement each other and assist industry to do business efficiently. There is some work to be done there. While all the right things are in the right place, they are not operating together as smoothly as they could be to make sure that businesses can trade successfully, and in a timely fashion, with highly perishable products.

Baroness McIntosh of Pickering: Are inshore fishermen happy?

Phil Haslam: Anecdotally, no, I do not think so at all. There is similar disappointment, dismay and frustration about the hope of exclusive access to the 12 miles. It has not been achieved yet, but, as I say, there is an adjustment period and after that is the moment when we will be able to reshape our fisheries management and access to our waters as we choose, as an independent coastal state.

Lisa McGuinness: I would probably concur with most, if not all, of what Phil said. We are slightly different, in that as part of the TCA no access to any part of the 6 to 12 has been granted in Scottish waters. As negotiations continue over the coming months and years, there may be certain areas where access is granted to the 6 to 12, but we are in a slightly different position as regards the 6 to 12.

Similarly, the main representations we have been getting, beyond official statements from the federations, have been very much about the barriers to trade at the moment, getting used to the new normal and the processes and things that are happening, and the knock-on effects for markets and everything else. That is not just because of EU exit but is due to the ongoing COVID situation. That seems to be where most of the noise is coming from at the moment. As things start to steady, we will hear and see a bit more actual evidence about the ultimate deal that was made.

Q42            Baroness Brown of Cambridge: Fortunately, I am going to ask you about what I think is the shortest article in the Agreement on fishing, FISH.15, which says that both parties shall share such information as is necessary to support the implementation of this Heading subject to each Partys laws”. Is co-ordination and information sharing taking place effectively with neighbouring marine authorities, and have we lost any access to information post transition? Do you still have access to the vessel monitoring system?

Lisa McGuinness: In the lead-up to the end of the transition period, discussions took place with the Commission on behalf of Member States on data sharing of things such as electronic logbooks, sales information, VMS and catch statistics throughout December. Fortunately, access to the data did not stop and we did not lose any information post transition. A series of technical discussions with the Commission will take place during 2021 on the licensing of fishing vessels, ongoing data sharing and indeed our approach to control and enforcement. All of that went really well, and we still have access to all the information that we had before.

To broaden it out a little, the UK ceased sharing information with NEAFthe North-East Atlantic Fisheries Commissionvia the Commission, but instead implemented direct exchanges of information with NEAF; again, VMS, daily catch data, notification and authorisation of fishing vessels and notification of inspections, et cetera, in NEAF waters. Again, there was a transition from that being via the Commission to being direct from the UK to NEAF. Touching wood, everything seems to be being shared and we do not appear to have any loss of information sharing at the moment.

Baroness Brown of Cambridge: You say there are ongoing discussions and everything is okay at the moment. Is there any chance that those ongoing discussions could result in less data being available to you?

Lisa McGuinness: I very much hope not. We will continue to have the technical discussions that take place normally with a Member State or an independent coastal state in conjunction with the Commission, to see if there is any more that we can add. It is very much in the spirit of continuing information sharing rather than anything else.

Baroness Brown of Cambridge: It is good to hear of such positive co-operation. Phil, would it be the same answer from you?

Phil Haslam: Absolutely. Data has been preserved, and we have the door open to negotiate what needs to change to enable us to manage our fisheries successfully and whether there is any additional data. On co-ordination and co-operation, I have been struck by the willingness of neighbouring fisheries authorities to speak to us and resolve difficulties. That has been happening from New Years Eve onwards. It seems that it is business as usual.

Baroness Brown of Cambridge: It is good to hear that such a contentious area is being managed so smoothly by the people on the front line. Thank you for telling us about that.

The Chair: Thank you, Baroness Brown. We need to bring the session to an end. First, I thank both Lisa and Phil. Given how you described the amount of work you had to do between the doing of the deal on 24 December and implementing it on 1 January, may I thank you personally for all the work that you obviously successfully did? Would you convey the Committees thanks to your staff and your teams at Marine Scotland and the MMO for having achieved something quite remarkable as regards that implementation? Thank you very much indeed.