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The Fisheries Bill 2019-21 [HL]  provides a framework for fisheries management after the Brexit transition period ends and the UK is no longer part of the Commons Fisheries Policy (CFP). It is intended to underpin the UK’s management of fisheries as an independent coastal state.

This is the second time a Fisheries Bill with this aim has been introduced. The previous Fisheries Bill 2017-19 was presented in the House of Commons on 25 October 2018. The Bill fell after completing Committee stage in the Commons when Parliament was prorogued for the December 2019 General Election. The current Fisheries Bill, as it was presented in the Lords, was similar in content and aim to the previous Fisheries Bill 2017-19.

Fisheries management in the UK (including quota allocation) is devolved, with different approaches taken by the four administrations. A Concordat for UK fisheries management was reached in 2012 which established common practice across the UK nations for vessel licensing, effort management and fishing quota distribution. Legislative consent for the legislation has been granted by the Northern Ireland, Scottish and Welsh Governments.

There were five successful Opposition amendments to the Bill at Report stage in the Lords, which took place on 22 June and 24 June 2020. An amendment on drafting regarding distribution of fishing opportunities was accepted by the Government. Four others were successful at Report stage on division. These made the sustainability objective the prime fisheries objective in the Bill; created a national landing requirement for 65% of fish caught in UK waters to be landed in the UK; established a quota reserve for new entrants and under 10m vessels; and mandated Remote Electronic Monitoring of fishing vessels.

The Government also made a number of amendments. These included removing the specified time period of a year for setting Total Allowable Catches; amendments throughout the Bill to reflect the change of name of the National Assembly of Wales to Senedd Cymru; and an amendment to clarify that references to EU legislation relate to British fishing boats and quotas. Schedule 10 was amended “to incorporate further amendments to retained EU law which we would have otherwise undertaken through secondary legislation”, to ensure changes are made in time for the end of the transition period and relieve pressure on the secondary legislation timetable.

This Briefing provides a short overview of the Bill as presented on 2 July 2020 in the House of Commons following its consideration by the House of Lords. It also examines those Government and Opposition amendments that were passed and now form part of the Bill.

Detailed explanation of each clause in the Bill can be found in the Bill’s Explanatory Notes. Clause by clause analysis of the Bill as introduced is available in the Fisheries Bill [HL]: Briefing for Lords Stages, published on 11 February 2020 in advance of Second Reading in the House of Lords.  The Commons Briefing Paper Fisheries Bill 2017-19 provides background on that Bill, its main provisions, and a summary of all stages up to Committee in the House of Commons.

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