New Administration Outlines Broad Approach

28th May 2010 in Domestic Fisheries Policy

A large breakfast meeting between the Secretary of State and all of the new Defra ministers recently provided a wide range of stakeholders with the first insights into the ways in which the new administration will operate.

The Secretary of State, Caroline Spelman, opened the meeting by saying that she had the ambition to make this “the greenest government ever”. She also stressed her roots in farming and that dealing with the budget deficit would be a major priority for her department, as well as the Government as a whole. The Secretary of State made clear that she would rely on Richard Benyon to handle fisheries matters.

The importance of the food sector and food security was stressed representing as it does 14% of the UK’s GDP.

Richard Benyon, the new Parliamentary under-Secretary for Natural Environment and Fisheries indicated:

  • That there would be no “empty seats” in Europe
  • That the UK would be actively engaged in the CFP reform process
  • That rebuilding the skills base and strengthening communities would be a priority

The new Defra ministerial team collectively took the view that:

  • Regulation should be the last not the first response
  • That there would be an emphasis on personal responsibility
  • There should be a transfer of responsibility to the local level
  • Reducing the regulatory burden would be a priority

Whilst at this stage these themes are, of necessity, aspirational, it is not difficult to see how the Federation’s cutting-edge proposals for a transfer of responsibility from government to the fishing industry, through Sustainable Fishing Plans, would sit comfortably with its ideas on deregulation, delegated responsibilities and taking personal responsibility. A further attraction will be the lower costs to Government associated with a delegated system of fisheries administration.

The Federation, having built strong links with the new Minister during his time as opposition spokesman of fisheries, will be meeting with him shortly to outline our main areas of concern and to advocate positive ways forward.