Fishing industry

Oral Answers to Questions — Agriculture, Fisheries and Food – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 12th July 1979.

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Photo of Mr Robert Adley Mr Robert Adley , Christchurch and Lymington 12:00 am, 12th July 1979

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food when he intends next to meet representatives of the fishing industry.

Photo of Mr Peter Walker Mr Peter Walker , Worcester

I keep in close touch with representatives of all sectors of the British fishing industry.

Photo of Mr Robert Adley Mr Robert Adley , Christchurch and Lymington

Is my right hon. Friend aware that fishermen in my constituency feel that they are facing constant battles over net sizes, over-fishing and the exploration activities of oil companies and pollution? Is he aware that the Wessex water authority wishes to site a sewage outfall in Christchurch Bay? Will he give fishermen in my constituency, and fishermen around the country, the assurance that they will be consulted not only by his Department but by others before decisions are taken which adversely affect their lives?

Photo of Mr Peter Walker Mr Peter Walker , Worcester

Yes, Sir. I know that mesh sizes have caused problems in the industry. We met representatives of every type of fisherman in the country, including representatives of fishermen in my hon. Friend's constituency. They considered that our policy was right. I am aware of the specific problems that my hon. Friend has experienced over oil pollution. Again, the Department acted speedily on that matter, to the benefit of his fishermen.

Mr. J. Enoch Powell:

Will the right hon. Gentleman give an assurance that he will give the same special attention this year to the needs of the Mourne fisheries as his predecessor did last year?

Photo of Mr Peter Walker Mr Peter Walker , Worcester

I certainly give an assurance that we shall look into the problems connected with the fishermen. I recognise the importance of this fishery to the fishermen concerned. We shall look into this matter and discuss it with the right hon. Gentleman before making any decisions.

Photo of Mr Donald Stewart Mr Donald Stewart , Na h-Eileanan an Iar

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that fishermen are looking to the Government to maintain the same robust attitude as that shown by the Minister of Agriculture in the previous Administration? Failing agreement on fishing, the answer is for the Government to take unilateral action.

Photo of Mr Peter Walker Mr Peter Walker , Worcester

Yes, Sir. That is why we took unilateral action on conservation on 1 July. There is no disagreement between the parties. The right hon. Member for Deptford (Mr. Silkin), who was the Minister in the previous Administration, said that it was a great help to him in his negotiations to have the whole of Parliament united on this issue. I believe that the whole of Parliament remains united on this issue.

Photo of John Gummer John Gummer , Eye

Is my right hon. Friend aware that some of the fishermen in my constituency are experiencing difficulty in obtaining fuel supplies? Will he have discussions with the Secretary of State for Energy to make sure that their needs, which are important in relation to fish supplies, are met?

Photo of Mr Peter Walker Mr Peter Walker , Worcester

If the fishermen in my hon. Friend's constituency have a specific problem they should contact my regional office, which will do its best to solve the problem.

Photo of Mr James Johnson Mr James Johnson , Kingston upon Hull West

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the only matter dominating the minds of the deepsea fishing fleet in Hull is where it can fish? The right hon. Gentleman will know that we are barred from fishing in the North Atlantic. Can he put before Mr. Gundelach, or the House, any suggestion of where we can find outlets for fishing?

Photo of Mr Peter Walker Mr Peter Walker , Worcester

I recognise the real problem that has existed for the long-distance fishing fleet for some time. One of the reasons why we are anxious to reach a sensible and acceptable agreement is that this could open third areas, with the Common Market, to the benefit of our fishermen. It is important to get a basic agreement that makes sense for our fishing industry.

Photo of Mr David Myles Mr David Myles , Banffshire

Will my right hon. Friend pay attention to the problems being caused to the prawn fishermen in the Moray Firth due to the 50 per cent. by-catch regulation?

Photo of Mr Peter Walker Mr Peter Walker , Worcester

I shall certainly look into the question.

Photo of Mr Roy Mason Mr Roy Mason , Barnsley

Is it not likely that there will be a Council of Fisheries Ministers meeting during the recess and that this is probably the last opportunity for the Minister to give the House the assurance that it wants? Will he assure the House that he will fight for conservation and proper adequate resources for protection, and that he will try to obtain the fair share that we want in the Common Market pool, the 12-mile exclusive zone, so that we can get dominant preference in the 12- to 50-mile belt?

Photo of Mr Peter Walker Mr Peter Walker , Worcester

I can give the assurance that the principles that I have related to the House stand firmly as the principles that we want to achieve in a fishing agreement. We shall do all that we can to achieve them. It will be difficult to reach such an agreement, but we are totally united on both sides of the House. It is essential to the fishermen that we reach agreement.