Salmon

Oral Answers to Questions — Agriculture, Fisheries and Food – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 2nd February 1984.

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Photo of Mrs Marion Roe Mrs Marion Roe , Broxbourne 12:00 am, 2nd February 1984

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food whether the Government have raised in the European Economic Communities Fisheries Council of Ministers the question of measures to control excessive fishing for salmon on the high seas, in particular off the coast of Greenland and the Faroes.

Photo of Mr John MacGregor Mr John MacGregor Minister of State (Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food)

Yes. As a result the Community subscribes to the international convention on the conservation of North Atlantic Salmon, which prohibits the taking of salmon on the high seas. The Community also limits catches of salmon in Greenland waters and insists on the limitation of Faroese catches in the context of the European Community-Faroes fisheries agreement.

Photo of Mrs Marion Roe Mrs Marion Roe , Broxbourne

I thank my hon. Friend for his reply. In practice, however, the present controls are not effective and better policing is essential. As stocks of salmon throughout the entire Atlantic region are being overfished and the runs of salmon are declining, will my hon. Friend insist on much stricter control, as there is an urgent need for improving stock levels and controlling netting?

Photo of Mr John MacGregor Mr John MacGregor Minister of State (Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food)

My hon. Friend has asked several questions. I am aware of the anxiety, although the evidence on the decline of salmon varies.

On the international position, the Greenland and Faroese salmon fisheries will be closely examined by the West Greenland and North East Atlantic Commissions of the North Atlantic Salmon Conservation Organisation at its next meeting in May. New scientific advice on these fisheries has been requested from the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea, and this should be available for that meeting, at which it is hoped decisions will be taken on the appropriate level of such catches.

Photo of Mr Roy Mason Mr Roy Mason , Barnsley Central

Is the Minister aware that, because of the excessive netting of salmon off the east Yorkshire coast, and particularly with nylon monofilament gill nets, no salmon are managing to get up the only real salmon river in Yorkshire, the River Esk, and no salmon are managing to spawn? What is he prepared to do about conservation on the high seas off the coast of east Yorkshire, or to conserve the salmon in the Esk river?

Photo of Mr John MacGregor Mr John MacGregor Minister of State (Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food)

The evidence in all the rivers that are affected by that coastal fishery is by no means as clear as the right hon. Gentleman suggests. I am looking at the matter urgently in the context of our review, and I hope to be able to make an announcement on these matters before too long.

Photo of Mr Peter Mills Mr Peter Mills , Torridge and West Devon

Does my hon. Friend agree that the real truth about this problem is that the salmon at present have not a chance? What with pollution and over-fishing, a very serious situation has developed, particularly in the south-west of England. It affects the tourist trade and, therefore, the consumption of salmon. It is so serious that something has to be done very quickly.

Photo of Mr John MacGregor Mr John MacGregor Minister of State (Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food)

I have indicated to my hon. Friend how, on the international level and international seas, this matter will be taken forward at the next meeting of NASCO. As for internal action, one of the key proposals now before us for dealing with the problem is the salmon tagging, which would help to deal with the poaching problem. On that matter, I feel very strongly that it is highly desirable that this should be done not just in England and Wales, but throughout Great Britain. We have completed our internal review of the salmon tagging proposals, and I shall be discussing them with my noble Friend the Minister of State, Scottish Office shortly.

Photo of Mr John Golding Mr John Golding , Newcastle-under-Lyme

Is the Minister aware that if the Government do not act quickly to support conservation the only salmon that will be entering United Kingdom waters will be in tins? Will Ministers stop dithering? Will the Minister stop talking and start acting in the interests of salmon conservation?

Photo of Mr John MacGregor Mr John MacGregor Minister of State (Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food)

International action is being taken. I can assure the hon. Gentleman that I am very conscious of these matters, but it is important that we discuss them with other Departments before final decisions are taken. and I shall be doing that very shortly.