The Fisheries Act: what now?

For the last two years, we’ve been busy advocating for a new Fisheries Act that puts sustainability at the forefront and ends overfishing for good. We’ve been working behind the scenes with Parliamentarians, the fishing industry and other environmental organisations to #fixourfisheries.

With your help and support along the way, we now have a Fisheries Act, which is much improved in comparison to the Bill’s original drafting. But our work here is far from done, so what now?

Sunset Fishing Boat

World leading or have we missed the boat?

We were delighted that some of our suggested changes were made to the Bill as it passed through the House of Lords. This included making sustainability the primary objective of the Bill and introducing a requirement to roll out the use of Remote Electronic Monitoring (REM) with cameras across UK fisheries. However, the significant Parliamentary majority in the House of Commons meant that these changes were removed during committee stage (where a committee of selected MPs scrutinise the Bill line by line) in the House of Commons.

It’s true that the Fisheries Act could do more if we want to truly #fixourfisheries, but sustainability is still part of the package. Six of the Act’s eight objectives focus on the environment, and there were some great wins along the way too…

Our wins

Together with the Greener UK Fisheries group we:

  1. Secured fisheries management plans – which should be used to meet sustainability goals and improve the long-term health of overfished stocks.

  2. Secured a climate change objective - thought to be a world’s first, this will make sure that the fishing sector takes further action to reduce its climate change impact.

  3. Influenced a government commitment to consult on increasing the use of REM on vessels fishing in UK waters – this will hopefully speed up the roll out of REM, improving data collection and enforcement.

Shoal fish UK

How you’ve helped

Your support has been essential to help us push sustainable fisheries up the political agenda over the past few years. Some highlights include:

  1. You submitted an incredible 19,000 consultation responses to the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs, as a result of our Caution: May Not Contain Fish campaign.

  2. Nearly 1,000 members of the public tweeted the Prime Minister and asked for his support to #fixourfisheries.

What comes next?

Now the Fisheries Act has become law, the hard work must really begin…the devil will be very much in the detail.

Keep an eye out for what we do next. We’ll continue to work with the government and other stakeholders to hold them to account to their gold standard promise for fisheries in 2021 and beyond!

Written by Alice Watson, Public Affairs Officer at the Marine Conservation Society