Beyond the Common Fisheries Policy: Scrutiny of the Fisheries Bill Contents


1.The Fisheries Bill was published by the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) on 25 October 2018. The Government described it as a Bill to “create powers to build a sustainable, profitable UK fishing industry and deliver a Green Brexit with new protections for our precious marine environment”.1

2.During its Second Reading in the House of Commons on 21 November 2018, the Rt Hon Michael Gove MP, Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, explained that the Bill would create the powers the UK needed to operate as an independent coastal state after leaving the EU. He highlighted that:

becoming an independent coastal state will give us an opportunity to lead environmentally, to revive the fishing industry economically and to ensure that our coastal communities once more have the opportunity for a renaissance.2

Our inquiry

3.This Bill will shape the future of the UK fishing industry, impact upon coastal communities and the sustainability of the UK’s fisheries and those it shares with the EU and other coastal states, so we have closely followed its development. We were therefore extremely disappointed that the Government did not give us the opportunity to conduct pre-legislative scrutiny of the draft Bill.

4.The Government should as a matter of course enable House of Commons’ Committees to conduct pre-legislative scrutiny on bills of this importance.

5.We launched our inquiry, Scrutiny of the Fisheries Bill, on 1 November 2018.3 We received around 46 written submissions and held four oral evidence sessions with a range of witnesses, including George Eustice MP, Minister of State for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food. We would like to thank everyone who contributed to this inquiry.

6.This Report is presented to the House before the Bill’s Report Stage to inform debate and scrutiny. We trust our recommendations will be considered by the Government and by Members from all parties. We have prioritised key areas raised in the evidence we received. In particular, Chapter Three sets out governance issues raised by the Bill, Chapter Four examines questions of fishing opportunities and Chapter Five discusses sustainability and coastal communities.

2 HC Deb, 21 November 2018, cols 897–98 [Commons Chamber]

3 Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Scrutiny of the Fisheries Bill inquiry, accessed 16 January 2019

Published: 20 January 2019