Sustainable Fish Campaign Coordinator Ruth Westcott sets out an alarming picture of what’s at stake at this snap General Election.
These are frustrating times for marine conservationists and the fishing industry as the Great Repeal Bill threatens to overturn what progress has already been made to preserve our fish stocks. As Andrew Charles from the Scottish Seafood Processors Federation recently said on BBC Radio 4’s Costing the Earth programme, ‘“We are leaving (the common fisheries policy) just at the point that it is working.” 
We need solid fisheries policies in manifestos and a Sustainable Fisheries Act in the next two years. Here, I make the case for developing a clear plan for a sustainable fishing policy (which could add £1bn to the UK economy), and why we need a guarantee that EU laws will be changed only with proper democratic and scientific review and oversight.
The Great Repeal Bill White Paper (released 30th March) confirmed that the EU Common Fisheries Policy will be copied and pasted into UK law when we leave the EU in March 2019, along with ‘the whole body of existing EU environmental law’. This is a promising signal that the UK will continue to use the EU systems, established with UK input and agreement, that have seen stocks begin to recover .
Unfortunately, this is not nearly enough to secure the precarious future of UK fishing. There are worrying proposals in the White Paper (to be confirmed in the Great Repeal Bill) that, if passed, would allow Government to unilaterally change or dismantle these transferred laws without proper democratic scrutiny or oversight, before March 2019, in a number of circumstances. The two that we are most concerned by are:
These are some of the key policies I believe are at risk, and how the different parties might stand on them:
We need a firm commitment in the manifestos of all the major political parties that our future fishing policy will be governed by the robust sustainability principles below. Healthy fish stocks and marine environments could mean an extra £1 billion for the UK economy ; but marine-wrecking policies could destroy that opportunity, as well as our precious ecosystems, forever.
A new Sustainable Fisheries Act and Good Food Act
After 8 June the new UK government must publish a new Sustainable Fisheries Act, and incorporate marine sustainability issues fully into the widely called for new Good Food Act .
A watertight guarantee that changes to fishing policy will have democratic and scientific scrutiny
We must get a guarantee from government that any changes that go beyond simple technical tweaks must be open to due process. That means proper scientific scrutiny, public consultation and full open and democratic process in Parliament, including a full debate and a vote by MPs. Anything less would risk endangering our marine life and already much-depleted fishing industry.
What you can do:
Every UK political party needs to set out its commitment to sustainable fisheries, to ensure that our children and grandchildren can enjoy fish and chips in thriving coastal communities, long into the future.
Note: At time of writing, it is unclear how legislation and standards will apply in the Devolved Administrations after the UK’s departure from the EU but any arrangement must be mindful of the need for shared management of common resources like fish and shellfish between the Devolved Administrations.
Fishing communities have been promised a better deal from Brexit. This is a golden opportunity to create a bold and aspirational Sustainable Fisheries Act to ensure fishing livelihoods and the marine environment are better when we leave the EU:
1. The UK must continue to collaborate with the EU Common Fisheries Policy on the following:
2. Protect the following EU legislation after 2019:
3. A commitment to better support the small-scale inshore UK fleet by:
4. A commitment to supporting the industry by:
 Costing the Earth broadcast Tue 4 Apr 2017 http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b08kv4bf
 The Great Repeal Bill White Paper is here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/the-great-repeal-bill-white-paper
 New evidence of recovering fish stocks: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-23358256
 See Great Repeal Bill White Paper, section 1.14, 3.3, 3.9,3.13 https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/the-great-repeal-bill-white-paper
 See Great Repeal Bill White Paper, section 1.16, 3.3, 3.9,3.13 https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/the-great-repeal-bill-white-paper
 From ‘Jeremy Corbyn’s 10 pledges to transform Britain’ http://www.labour.org.uk/index.php/10-pledges
,  Lord Lawson and Ian Duncan Smith join calls for a bonfire of red tape http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/03/27/cut-eu-red-tape-choking-britain-brexit-set-country-free-shackles/. More information about the Habitats Directive is here: http://jncc.defra.gov.uk/page-4166
 ‘Jeremy Corbyn’s 10 pledges to transform Britain’ http://www.labour.org.uk/index.php/10-pledges
 UK to 'scale down' climate change and illegal wildlife measures to bring in post-Brexit trade, secret documents reveal http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/uk-government-to-scale-down-climate-change-and-illegal-wildlife-measure-a7674706.html
 The Aarhus Convention http://ec.europa.eu/environment/aarhus/
 2015 Conservative Party manifesto is here – see page 23 https://s3-eu-west-1.amazonaws.com/manifesto2015/ConservativeManifesto2015.pdf
 A range of catch scenarios was modelled by the New Economics Foundation, in their highly influential ‘Managing EU Fisheries in the public interest’ report. They aimed to determine the impact on jobs and revenue, including fishers’ wages, if fish stocks were allowed to increase to the scientifically-determined Maximum Sustainable Yield (MSY) They found huge opportunities for jobs, revenue and the opportunity for the EU to be self-sufficient for fish, including:
 Calls for a better legal framework for food, farming and fishing beyond Brexit https://www.sustainweb.org/brexit/time_for_an_act/
Sustainable Fish and the Climate and Nature Emergency: A campaign to protect precious marine environments and fishing livelihoods, and call for fish to be bought from sustainable sources. We want to show what can be done if people and organisations make a concerted effort to change their buying habits.
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