Last month Luke invited a number of local fishing stakeholders to take part in a virtual roundtable to discuss issues facing the fishing industry in Plymouth and what he can do to support them. He was also joined by leader of Plymouth City Council, Cllr Tudor Evans, who is also vocal about his support for the fishing industry; recently Call4Fish in particular, who have created a nationwide movement for fresh, sustainable fish.
Luke wants to make sure that locally there are policies in place to ensure fishers are getting the support they need – both immediate help and with fundamental infrastructure. The cost involved in the increasing amount of paperwork for fishers, especially small businesses, was discussed, and Luke explained that he has been speaking to Victoria Prentis MP about how this can be streamlined and the true experiences of small businesses. Luke is conscious that it is imperative that the experiences of the people on the ground are fed back to government to try and help inform policy; from the physical aspect of fishing quotas, through to the paperwork and the risks involved. The lack of certainty for customers at the other end is also an issue that needs to be considered.
Luke is keen to keep the effort up on marine safety, and look at long term conversations about how to de-carbonise fishing, with a reasonable nationwide plan about how fishers can replace their diesel engines rather then a sudden announcement and huge cost at the last minute.
Tudor explained the ways in which the City Council have been trying to work with the local fishing community, who were promised a great deal out of Brexit and are now facing times of immense hardship. They are concerned about the number of small business people in the South West compared with other parts of the country, and the pressures faced by these small businesses. The City Council want to create a plan for sustainable fishing, work to improve the fishing infrastructure in the city.
Other topics discussed included the support that retailers have the ability to offer, through ensuring they sell more non-farmed British species. Bringing more young people into the industry is also something that fishers are looking to work on, and Plymouth City Council are considering how they can support with this using their Skills Launchpad.
The potential in the Plymouth fishing industry is great, and the Local Authority want to work alongside the sector closely. There is a lot to be proud of in Plymouth with fishing innovation and as Shadow Environment Minister, Luke is keen to speak up for the industry as much as possible.
Fishing was screwed over in the Government’s Brexit deal. Fishers were promised a “sea of opportunity” but instead are now facing an uphill struggle as export markets are closed off to them, new burdensome and expensive red tape is introduced by Government and the promises made to fishing communities broken by Ministers. It seems fishing was used by the Conservatives to get what they wanted on Brexit and now have been betrayed. Nationally and locally Labour is backing our fishing industry. As the person who leads on fishing nationally for Labour I have spoken up for our fishers for the past three years and will continue to do so. Fishing deserves so much better than the poor deal the Prime Minister agreed. Many local fishing businesses are facing a struggle to survive and that is the opposite of what they were promised.