BY Southend West MP Anna Firth.
WELCOMING the PM and Home Secretary to Southend.
It was a great privilege to welcome the Prime Minister, the Right Honourable Rishi Sunak, to Southend on January 15, after inviting him down at Prime Minister’s Questions the week prior to see the discovery of very large new shellfish beds, which could be the ticket to providing new food security and securing Leigh’s incredible maritime heritage for generations to come.
The Prime Minister, along with James Cleverly, Home Secretary, came to The Hatch in Leigh to meet with members of the local community, including students who participated in my work experience programme in the summer from Southend High School for Boys.
He met with James Gilson and Angus Browne, of Browne’s Thames Estuary Boat Trips, to discuss the estuary and this incredible new discovery, before eating some delicious sea food at the family-run Osbourne’s. He also met with Tony Cox (Leader of Southend city Council) to discuss the success of SUFC in person, which was thrilling for all around.
The Home Secretary then joined Roger Hirst, Essex MPs, the Chief Constable and the Southend Town Centre Team today for a patrol in the City, where he was able to meet our local officers and see the excellent work they are doing to get crime down.
The discovery of new shellfish beds, which could lead to new fisheries that can be developed and managed by English fisherman to be long-term and sustainable without EU interference is enormous. It is hugely exciting for Southend.
In time, these new fisheries could become the long-term saviour of Leigh’s industry and preserve its heritage.
As we have both native and non-native clams growing in the Thames estuary, we need to explore ways in which both can be harvested sustainably. Being outside the EU allows us to manage our shell fisheries more appropriately, enabling us to consider local conditions as well as the evidence so that we can ensure fisheries are sustainable.
Retained EU law containing ‘minimum landing sizes’ (MLS), designed to protect the native clam species, which reach maturity at larger sizes, currently means that an opportunity to capitalise on the large numbers of shellfish in the Estuary is currently being uncapitalised.
I am hugely excited for this new discovery, and look forward to pursuing it with all my energies, particularly in my newly-secured Westminster Hall debate on the subject, due to take place in ten days’ time.
Paul Gilson is doing incredible work in this area, and I am looking forward to continuing to work closely with him, as well as with the Government, regulators and scientists to consider the issues which need to be resolved before fisheries can be established.
It was a huge honour to welcome both James Cleverly and Mr Sunak to Southend, and I feel incredibly privileged to have been able to show them the community which it is my greatest passion to serve. Now, when they hear me discussing Southend in the Chamber, they will have experienced for themselves the incredible hospitality, kindness and brilliance of its community.
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