FILEY MP Anne McIntosh has criticised the Government’s policy over fishing quotas claiming livelihoods in the town could be put at risk.
Ms McIntosh, who was chairing the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Select Committee, claimed the Department for Food and Rural Affairs needed to significantly improve its management system.
Ms McIntosh, who recently visited the town and saw first hand the town’s fishing fleet, said she could not believe Defra was not monitoring quotas in England.
She said: “Quota was described to us as the lifeblood of the fishing industry.
“However, we were shocked to discover that Defra does not currently monitor who holds quotas.
“This means that we don’t know how much fishing quota may be held by slipper skippers or organisations who have little or no connection to the fishing industry and who merely trade it as a commodity.”
Ms McIntosh said the committee had concerns over the turning of quota into a commodity at the expense of working fishermen.
She said: “We have called upon Defra to justify its position and our report recommends that quota should only be held by working fishermen unless the holding of quota by outside interests can be shown to be of clear benefit to fishing communities.
“The distribution of quota to smaller fishing boats, known as the under ten metre fleet, was a particular concern for the Committee.
“If the Government accepts our recommendations the under ten metre fleet would have more opportunities to acquire fishing quota, providing a life-line for those fishing communities most vulnerable to the current rules.”
Ms McIntosh also revealed the committee had called for action to tackle discarding dead fish back into the sea.
She added: “It is a waste of natural resources and we were encouraged to hear Defra is undertaking work to address the problem.”