Monday, 18 July 2011

Celebrating Cornwall’s relationship with the Sea

A great deal of time in the House of Commons last week was taken up with completing as much legislation as possible before Parliament goes into Recess for the Summer. Ministers announced a number of policies and responses to consultations.

These policies included proposed changes to the production of electricity – changes intended to secure our electricity supplies for the future, reduce electricity bills for British consumers and ensure that the UK meets its ambitious carbon reduction targets.

I welcome these commitments and am excited by Cornwall’s role in delivering them. As the Government invests heavily in our marine renewable and deep geothermal technology, Cornwall can reap the benefits of being at the forefront of low-carbon technological development.

As new opportunities present themselves for Cornwall, it is important to remember the continuing importance of the sea to the Duchy’s culture and economy.

On Sunday I was delighted to join Sea Sunday in Falmouth where the contribution of all seafarers and those that support them was recognised.

The long association of Falmouth and the navy is very important. Not only are the Fleet Auxiliary ships frequent visitors to the port but many people work at RNAS Culdrose. Airmen from the base continue to make a very significant contribution to the operation in Afghanistan. Day in and day out the Royal Navy is providing invaluable service to every household in this country in keeping the world’s shipping lanes open.

More than 95% of everything we consume in this country comes in by ship. Ships bringing this vital cargo have to navigate some very dangerous waters, as the number of international pirates grows. I will continue to do all I can to stand up for the Navy in Parliament and ensure they have the resources they need.

On Thursday we learned of the out-come of the consultation on the future of another invaluable maritime service, the UK Coastguard. Falmouth Coastguards have done a great job in making the case for their service. I am pleased they will stay open 24 hours and will part of the new nationally networked service. I will continue to work with them in the months ahead to ensure that their front-line expertise is listened to and safety for everyone at sea remains the top priority.

Whilst safety is all important in formulating maritime polices, common sense is needed too.
That the EU Commons Fishery Policy has been a disaster both for fishermen and fish stocks is without doubt. The Minister for Fisheries has done a good job in strongly arguing the case for wholesale reform, pressing for decisions about fishing to be taken locally and practical solutions to discarding fish at sea be found with the help of the fishermen themselves.

This work will continue, as more and more organisations recognise the importance of sustainable fishing. I was pleased to recently see the launch of Marks and Spencer’s ‘Forever Fish’ campaign, a three year commitment to promote more high quality, sustainably-sourced fish, and support increased public awareness of the need for maritime conservation. 

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