asked the Minister of Agriculture what approach has been made to him by the Great Ouse River Catchment Board with regard to an electric fishing machine; what ruling he has given in this matter; and if he will take powers to ban the use of such devices except with his approval.
The river boards already have power to determine the instruments which may be used for fishing and the conditions under which they may be used. The Great Ouse River Board have asked my Department to advise them on the drafting of a byelaw to prohibit the use of electric fishing machines except under licence. My Department is advising them as requested, but the byelaw will have to be advertised, and any objections that are received will have to be considered, before it is put to me for confirmation.
Am I not right in saying that this particular machine—of which the right hon. Gentleman has knowledge—is an extremely technical one, and that its indiscriminate use or its use by poachers might have a very damaging effect upon British rivers? Can I have his assurance that he will take the earliest possible action in this matter?
I agree that this machine, which is an extremely interesting one, may be useful for some purposes; but to prevent its abuse its use will clearly have to be subject to very close attention.