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Future fisheries and tree pest outbreak in Kent

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Future fisheries announcement

Image of a major fishing port, with boats at a harbour.
A major fishing port.

There is widespread media coverage today of the government’s commitment to ensure the whole of the UK’s fishing industry prospers as we become an independent coastal state.

Covered by The Times, Daily Mail, Press & Journal, Today Programme and Daily Telegraph, Environment Secretary Michael Gove has announced the government will bolster the Fisheries Bill by tabling an amendment that would oblige the Secretary of State to pursue a fairer share of fishing opportunities than the UK currently receives under the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP).

Mr Gove also announced £37.2 million of extra funding to boost the UK fishing industry during the Implementation Period in addition to the existing European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF) funding.

Environment Secretary Michael Gove said:

We are taking back control of our waters and will secure a fairer share of fishing opportunities for the whole of the UK fishing industry as we leave the EU. The amendment to the Fisheries Bill will give legal weight to this commitment.

New funding will boost the industry as we become an independent coastal state, preparing it to receive a greater share of future fishing opportunities.

Secretary of State for Scotland David Mundell said:

It is absolutely essential Brexit delivers for Scottish fishermen and for those in the rest of the UK.

It is clear they want to leave the Common Fisheries Policy and do not want any future deal with the EU to link access to our fishing grounds to our access to European markets.

This change to the Fisheries Bill creates a watertight commitment to getting the best possible deal for Scotland’s fishermen and their communities and should give them a great deal of confidence about the future.

The announcement was welcomed by industry including the Scottish Fishermen's Federation (SFF)who said:

SFF welcomes the strengthening of the Fisheries Bill and the commitment of extra resources for the sector to aid the UK's transition to an independent coastal state and beyond.

Particularly pleasing is the rejection of French President Emmanuel Macron's suggestion that existing shares of fish be maintained post-Brexit and the establishment instead of a platform for annual negotiations to move towards much fairer shares.

Tree pest outbreak in Kent

An image of the eight toothed spruce bark beetle on a piece of wood.
The eight toothed spruce bark beetle. Photo credit: Forestry Commission.

Over the weekend there was coverage of an outbreak of the eight toothed spruce bark beetle on the Express and Mail Online websites, as well as in the Yorkshire Post and BBC South East.

This coverage stressed that the eight toothed spruce bark beetle poses no threat to human health but is a serious and destructive pest of the spruce tree species. The Mail and Express focussed on Christmas trees and carried images online that were incorrect and not of this pest.

Smaller spruce trees (less than fifteen years old), including domestic Christmas trees, are too small to be susceptible to infestation and very unlikely to be affected by this finding.

A correct image of the eight toothed spruce bark beetle is depicted above.

Nicola Spence, the UK Chief Plant Health Officer, said:

An outbreak of the eight-toothed spruce bark beetle (Ips typographus) in an area of woodland in Kent has been confirmed. It poses no threat to human health, but can be a serious pest of the spruce tree species.

We are taking swift and robust action to limit the spread of this outbreak as part of our well-established biosecurity protocol used for tree pests and diseases.

I encourage anyone who suspects a sighting of the bark beetle to report these to the Forestry Commission on the Tree Alert portal.

More information on this outbreak is available here.

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