Government Fisheries Bill – Greenpeace response

Government fails to confirm that fishing opportunities will be shared fairly on transparent environmental, social and economic criteria


Responding to the Government’s Fisheries Bill, Rebecca Newsom, head of politics at Greenpeace UK, said:

“This Bill rightly recognises that our fisheries are a public good, to be managed in the public interest. However, too often we’ve seen the Government fail to remedy the historic inequality in the industry. With over a quarter of the UK’s current fishing quota owned or controlled by just five Rich List families, it’s clear a new approach is urgently required. While the Bill could open up opportunities to fish in more areas around our shores, the Government has still failed to confirm that fishing opportunities will be shared fairly on transparent environmental, social and economic criteria. Until this guarantee is made for both current and future quota, the promise of “taking back control” which has been repeatedly made to coastal communities and local, low-impact, fishers, will remain a vanishing dream.”



A recent Greenpeace investigation into distribution of fishing quota across the UK found:

  • Over a quarter (29%) of the UK’s fishing quota is owned or controlled by just five families on the Sunday Times Rich List.
  • This group also has minority investments in companies and fishing vessel partnerships that hold a further 8% of the country’s fishing quota. This means companies holding over a third (37%) of the UK’s fishing quota are wholly or partly owned by this tiny handful of wealthy families.
  • Over half (13) of the UK’s 25 largest quota-holders are linked to one of the biggest criminal overfishing scams ever to reach the British courts. These 13 businesses have shareholders, directors, or vessel partners who were convicted (in cases heard between 2011–2012) following the “Operation Trawler” police investigation into industrial-scale landings of illegally over-quota fish (or “black fish”) in Scotland.
  • Those with the biggest hoards of quota can make millions leasing their fishing quota without casting a net. One company – which holds over half (55%) of Northern Ireland’s quota – recently disposed of its boat and earned £7m in a year from its quota while waiting for a new one.

For further details of the investigation by Unearthed, Greenpeace’s investigative unit, see:

Gove launches Fisheries Bill to take back control of UK waters:

The full Fisheries Bill is available here:

Fisheries Bill explanatory notes:

Photo & Video

For general images of the UK fishing industry, see:

Media Contact

Greenpeace UK press office,, 020 7865 8255

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