In what is seen as a defeat for the UK government, the House of Lords has voted for an amendment to the Fisheries Bill aimed at ensuring environmental sustainability.
The Fisheries Bill is regarded as a key piece of legislation, setting out management of UK fisheries management as it leaves the EU and departs from the Common Fisheries Policy.
Peers voted by 310 in favour to 251 against for the addition of a new provision to the Fisheries Bill focused on the sustainability of fisheries and aquaculture. The amendment aims to ensure that fishing and aquaculture activities do not compromise environmental sustainability, while requiring that fishing fleets be managed so as to achieve economic, social and employment benefits, contribute to the availability of food supplies and have economically viable fishing capacity that does not overexploit marine stocks.
According to the Lords, sustainability has to be the prime fisheries objective.
Independent crossbencher Lord Krebs commented that as drafted, the Fisheries Bill failed to guarantee the protection of fish stocks and the wider marine environment, adding that be certain the Fisheries Bill achieves its aims, the commitment to protection of the natural environment needs to be written into it.
He stated that in instances when there has been a trade-off between short-term economic and employment considerations, and long-term environmental sustainability, short-term factors have nearly always won.
“This is what has led to over-fishing and long-term damage to the marine environment in many of the world’s fisheries,” he said.