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Lord Pearson of Rannoch: My Lords, perhaps I may press the Minister on that point. My noble friend Lord Willoughby de Broke said that before we were deprived of our fisheries somewhat deceitfully by Mr Heath when he took us into the common fisheries policy in 1972, the United Kingdom controlled some 75 per cent of the fish in what are now EU waters. I thought that the figure was nearly 80 per cent. If we withdrew and took back that 80 per cent, surely at least 80 per cent would be controlled by us and 80 per cent of the environment could be under our control. When the fish stocks had recovered and we had looked after the needs of our own fishermen, we could lease any surplus to others.
Baroness Hayman: My Lords, the noble Lord makes it sound very simple. When I had my seminar on this subject with my honourable friend Mr Elliot Morley, he assured me that some of the figures and propositions that have just been put forward are not achievable. Perhaps I may make one point about the document relating to the former Conservative administration which was released under the 30-year rule.Whatever might have been the policies then, and whatever are the policies now advocated by the Opposition, we do not regard the fishing industry and fishing communities as expendable. That is why we are addressing the review of the common fisheries policy with great care, thoroughness and firm political will in order to secure the kinds of changes that are necessary.
The Earl of Onslow: My Lords, if we cannot secure any changes then that is the problem. If, on balance, we agree to a common policy, what happens if they continue to behave like purblind fools? Are we to allow that to happen? That appears to be our option.
Baroness Hayman: My Lords, we also have an option to cross bridges when we come to them. At the moment we should concentrate our efforts on achieving effective reform of the common fisheries policy. That is what we are doing.
We believe that there is scope for improving the decision-making processes under the CFP and bringing it closer to those affected by it. To that end, the contributions to our debate covering zonal management from my noble friend Lord Judd, the noble Lord, Lord Perry of Walton, and the noble Baroness, Lady Miller of Chilthorne Domer, all made clear the benefits of a more regional approach. It will offer greater opportunities for greater efficiency in decision making, more ownership of the issues, increased involvement of those directly affected by decisions and the decision-making process, and
We believe that it will be possible to develop a considerable role for regional management arrangements, while respecting the current institutional and legal framework of the European Union and the need for all member states to retain a role in relation to European legislation. I noted the suggestion put forward by the noble Baroness, Lady Miller, that a pilot regional management system could be introduced. The Commission has already carried out a series of pilot regional workshops which the UK strongly supported. Those workshops brought together fishermen, administrators and scientists to discuss issues concerning particular fisheries. The feedback from the workshops was very positive and in June last year the Council agreed, in what we consider to be a welcome step, to put such workshops on a more permanent footing. They have provided the starting point from which the present recovery plans have been developed.
However, even extremely local decisions may have wider implications, whether for the environment or for budgets. Thus the Council of Ministers needs to retain a role to monitor the decisions taken and to help ensure coherence across the European Union, while allowing for legitimate variation. We believe that the successful manner in which recent stock recovery plans have been put together demonstrates what can be achieved. We look forward to building on that in the forthcoming review.
However, as has been pointed out by a number of noble Lords who have spoken tonight--the noble Baronesses, Lady Byford and Lady Wilcox, and my noble friend Lord Judd--a key priority is the maintenance of effective and consistent standards of enforcement across the Community. Last year, existing controls were strengthened by the implementation of satellite monitoring for vessels over 24 metres and the requirement for all vessels over 10 metres to keep log books and to record all catches and landings. We have in place more effective enforcement, but a great deal more still needs to be done to instil a culture of compliance with fair and consistent standards across Europe. I would not query that for a moment. We look to the Commission to come forward with proposals to improve levels of co-operation on enforcement between member states.
A number of noble Lords, including my noble friend Lord Judd, noted that there are only 25 European fisheries inspectors. I am sure that this issue will be further examined during the course of the review. However, it is important to make it clear that the purpose of those inspectors is to monitor the effectiveness of national inspectorates. It is not the case that that small number is intended directly to enforce the rules on fishing fleets, although I recognise the issues as regards not having "custodes"--I apologise, I was trying to change the grammar of the
As to the important issue raised by my noble friend Lord Judd of the CFP's effect on developing nations and the way in which different policy objectives can interact, officials from MAFF, DfID and the FCO have been working closely on fisheries agreements in developing countries to ensure better coherence between EU commercial policies for fisheries and policies for eliminating poverty in developing countries. That work will continue.
As to the aquaculture industry, a matter raised by several noble Lords, the production of farmed salmon and trout complements rather than competes with the traditional catching sector. It is becoming increasingly diverse, with interests in the farming of cod, halibut, turbot and scallops. We heard from the noble Baroness, Lady Wilcox, of the possibilities in regard to lobster.
Sustainable development is a clear requirement for aquaculture to be successful and controls are in place to ensure that the interests of consumers, the environment and the fish are protected. This is supported by significant expenditure on research and development, including work on cultivation techniques as well as on the impact of aquaculture on the environment. It is an area where we can apply some of the lessons that we have painfully learnt from not heeding the warnings given in the past.
My noble friend Lord Stoddart of Swindon made clear--and on this, at least, I agree with him--the importance of the European Commission taking seriously the conclusions of the report. Last year, Commissioner Fischler outlined the Commission's priorities for the review to the European Parliament. We can expect the Green Paper to cover conservation of resources, the CFP's economic and social
It is important that, both in this country and wider, we have an effective debate on the Green Paper and a successful outcome in terms of policy. Today's debate has given us the opportunity--certainly from the Government's viewpoint--to be able to take forward, with additional evidence and support, the kinds of policies that we believe are necessary to change the CFP for the future.
The Earl of Selborne: My Lords, there have been some powerful contributions to the debate from all sides of the House. We have not been in total agreement as to whether the common fisheries policy is capable of reform. But we have been in unanimous agreement that the policy is failing--in part, as a consequence of perverse subsidies.
I shall take away from the debate particularly the ringing words of the noble Lord, Lord Judd. They will "hold" in my memory for a long time. The noble Lord said that we owe it to the fishing communities to provide leadership. That is the realisation that we have, having witnessed over the past 17 or 18 years a failing policy which is impacting so severely and unfairly on quite a small minority. We in this House owe it to those people, as do the Government, to try to make sure that the burden is not totally carried by them.
To that extent, while I welcome the Minister's assurances, I felt that her reliance on the availability of Objective 2 areas was just a little too bland. I hope that she will reflect on that carefully. If ever there were a case for a government task force to be set up to examine specifically the inevitable impact on fishing communities, this is it.
It merely remains for me to thank all noble Lords who have participated in the debate. It has been distressing, but it has given us some shafts of guidance as to what is implied by "leadership" in this sector.
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