Government Minister George Eustice MP has answered questions on the European Union’s fisheries policies and other marine conservation issues during an event at Plymouth University.
The MP for Camborne and Redruth, who is Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Farming, Food and Marine Environment, held a question and answer session with students and staff from the University’s marine courses.
The session, arranged by Associate Professor of Marine Biology Dr Steve Fletcher and Plymouth Sutton and Devonport MP Oliver Colvile, was attended by students on courses including MSc Applied Marine Science, BSc Ocean Science and BSc Ocean Exploration.
Also present were PhD students working on a range of marine topics and staff from the School of Marine Science and Engineering and the Centre for Marine and Coastal Policy Research (MarCoPol).
Mr Eustice was asked a number of questions on legislation such as the Common Fisheries Policy and the Marine and Coastal Access Act, as well as the role of organisations such as the Marine Management Organisation and the EU Fisheries Council.
He also spoke about Marine Conservation Zones and the role of marine planning in delivering social and economic benefits, and the management of damaging fishing techniques and quote allocations.
Mr Eustice said:
“Preserving the socio-economic benefits of our marine environment while ensuring that conservation issues are properly addressed is undoubtedly a major challenge. We have made huge strides in recent years, especially on issues such as fishing quotas, but there is still much work to do and difficult conversations to be had. Having the scientific evidence is crucial to making informed decisions, and I enjoyed an interesting session with students and academics who posed some very detailed and informed questions.”
Dr Fletcher is the Director of MarCoPol, which in recent years has played a key role in a number of national and international partnership projects influencing the development of policies and guidance about the marine environment.
These includes VALMER, a €4.7 million project examining how improved marine ecosystem services assessment can support effective and informed marine management and planning, and PEGASEAS, which aims to promote the efficient governance of the English Channel ecosystem.
“This session was a fantastic opportunity for students to take what they have learned out of the classroom and to relate it to the real world. It was also a chance for them to see how leading political figures engage with these sorts of issues, and to discover some of the constraints and difficulties which have to be overcome in formulating international marine policies.”