Hartlepool MP Mike Hill on what new DEFRA secretary could mean for UK fishing industry after Brexit
Hartlepool’s MP Mike Hill says he hopes Brexit will help bring about a regeneration of Britain’s fishing industry – but has urged caution about what the government may achieve.
Mr Hill, who heads a new group of MPs with the aim of boosting coastal communities, reacted to the appointment of Brexit supporting Theresa Villiers as the new environment secretary in Boris Johnson’s new government.
The appointment has been warmly welcomed by lobby group Fishing For Leave (FFL) which wants to see a number of points included in the Fisheries Bill which is going through Parliament and will determine how stocks are managed after the UK leaves the European Union.
FFL’s wishes include full sovereignty of the UK’s exclusive economic zone and cutting all ties with the Common Fisheries Policy.
But Mr Hill said more needed to be done to help small, independent fishers from large multi-national businesses.
He said he agreed with many of the aspirations of FFL’s charter, but he added: “In the interest of the revival of fishing fleets across the UK, especially small independent businesses, I have to say that the Government has done nothing so far to legislate for the rebalancing of fishing quotas post Brexit to allow for the revival, regeneration and rebuilding of fishing communities.
“We need to rebuild and reconstruct our local fishing industry, not hand the conglomerates a virtual monopoly on quotas.”
Mr Hill said regeneration of the fishing industry was more than just taking back ownership of UK waters adding: “I do hope Theresa tackles this issue going forward, but having served on the Fisheries Bill I feel her hands may be tied.
“I want to see a regeneration and re-growth of our fishing industry, and I hope that Brexit facilitates that.”
Ministers have said the UK will get a fairer share of fishing stocks after Brexit.
But Mr Hill said the issue of fishing quota allocations will continue to disadvantage places like Hartlepool, Redcar and Whitby if the Government continues to protect multi-nationals. Ms Villiers said in the House of Commons this week that the government wants to press ahead with the Fisheries Bill as soon as possible.
She said: “I look forward to working to deliver the Government’s historic commitment to hand on the natural environment in a better state than we found it, by driving up animal welfare, championing and supporting our country’s fantastic food, farming and fisheries, and ensuring that we seize the opportunities offered by Brexit.”