Fishing makes up just 0.5% of the UK economy. Why is it then that so many object to the fact that the Common Fisheries Policy (the rules which our fishermen are required to obey including their total allowable catch of fish in UK waters) is to continue beyond next March? Because in many coastal areas fishing is the key employer and an important part of local identity especially for tourist destinations such as West Cornwall.
People object to being told that taking back control of access to UK waters will have to wait another 21 months. Even then we remain unconvinced because the draft guidelines for the final phase of the Article 50 negotiations say that fishing should be part of a UK-EU free trade deal (FTA). EU demand is that existing levels of access and quota shares should be maintained after the transition phase. It suggests that existing reciprocal access to fishing waters and resources will continue.
This is incompatible with the expectations raised and at odds with current UK Government policy so I’ve asked the PM to make clear her intent. Fishing and taking control of access to UK waters is a red line issue for the many Conservative MPs including myself and without exception Scottish Conservative MPs for good reason. I’ve also suggested to the Prime Minister and the Chancellor that they have a significant opportunity to help build confidence in UK fishing by investing in our fishing fleet, improving our ports, harbours and coastal communities and ensuring we have adequate fish producing facilities in the UK by 2021. Most of our West Cornwall harbours and fishing coves lack significant investment and now is the time to correct this. 0.5% will stay 0.5% if we allow Brussels to continue to dictate fishing policy.
Two of my staff (Simon and Keith) spent Saturday swimming in Helston, cycling to Penzance via Porthleven and Marazion and running to St Ives. They were cheered on by the Park Run at Penrose Woods, the Saturday Gang and Mounts Bay Harriers at The Godolphin Arms, the Wharfside Management and David Smith on his mechanical organ and welcomed at the Salvation Army in St Ives for tea and cake.
All this to raise money and awareness of Brain Tumour Research. Along the way the pair called in at various shops taking part in our annual ‘Wear a Hat’ day which is now in its fourth year here in West Cornwall. Simon and Keith are in training to run the London Marathon in aid of Brain Tumour Research.
Many of us grew up with Band Aid and worries about the Ozone Layer. Today care for the poorest countries and care for the environment has been wrapped up in the 17 Sustainable Development Goals agreed by nearly 200 countries worldwide. I visited Year 8 pupils at Cape Cornwall School to discuss these goals and look at examples of how they are changing lives. Examples include building dams in Somalia for farmers, supporting young women studying electrical engineering and training women in selling solar lanterns in remote villages in Africa. The Sustainable Development Goals aim to take 400,000,000 people out of extreme poverty by 2030. The Commonwealth Summit, taking place this month in London, concentrates on how well we are doing towards achieving these goals and it was good to engage our young people in this subject.