4 July 2018
The British Ports Association has responded to the Government’s Fisheries White Paper, published today, which should have more focus on ports and infrastructure. These gateways are vital enablers of the Government’s post-Brexit vision however key concerns for the industry remain unanswered.
The British Ports Association represents almost all of the top 50 UK Fishing Ports and all of the top 20 by landings. Commenting on the paper, Mark Simmonds, Policy Manager at the BPA said:
“This Bill lacks a focus on the UK’s fishing ports, which are often at the heart of coastal communities and hubs of employment and economic activity for the fishing industry. Many of our fishing ports and communities have suffered under the EU’s Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) for 40 years yet the British Ports Association, which represents almost all of the top 50 fishing ports in the UK, has not been properly consulted on any of these proposals despite repeated attempts to engage with Government. As a result, many of our chief concerns remain unanswered.
“There is disappointing lack of detail in this long-delayed White Paper. Some of that is understandable given that much of it will be the subject of negotiations with the EU and other coastal states, but we remain concerned at the lack of focus on fishing ports, which are a crucial part of the journey from sea to plate. There is not a single reference to infrastructure in any of the 60 pages.
“Whilst there is a provision to enable Ministers to create a domestic successor to the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF), we are very disappointed that there is no firm commitment to do this and no details on its size or what it might look like. The importance of this critical funding is not recognised: 72% of ports rely on EMFF to fund expansion of new services and facilities and 94% have used it in the past to fund expansion. If Ministers continue to place restrictions on the market - as sustainability demands and as is right - then they must be prepared to support the consequences of that. The Bill does contain provisions for a new scheme and we urge the Government to engage with fishing ports to ensure it is fit for purpose and matches the industry’s ambition.
“There is very little on strengthening the ‘economic link’ between coastal communities and our fisheries. We would like to see more fish caught in UK waters being landed at UK ports. We are also deeply concerned about the UK’s access to foreign markets for fish following Brexit. The UK exports around 75% of the fish that is landed in the UK and it is vital that tariffs and non-tariff barriers in particular are minimised or removed after Brexit.”