Cod Quotas

Oral Answers to Questions — Agriculutre, Fisheries and Food – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 7th June 1984.

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Photo of Mr John Townend Mr John Townend , Bridlington 12:00 am, 7th June 1984

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he is considering putting forward proposals for cod quotas for specific regions of the North sea to be allocated to local fishermen.

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

The revised quota arrangements for North sea cod announced on 30 May include sectoral quotas for recognised groups, including producer organisations, which show the ability to manage a block allocation.

Photo of Mr John Townend Mr John Townend , Bridlington

Is my hon. Friend aware that the Yorkshire and Anglia Fish Producers' Organisation feels that it has not been treated fairly by his Ministry? Following a meeting in May it was given no indication of the specific action that it would have to take to ensure that it was allocated a quota. When the quotas were announced, it appeared to be the only FPO that had not been granted one. Will my hon. Friend instruct his civil servants to state specifically what the Yorkshire and Anglia FPO needs to do and urge them to co-operate with the fishermen in this FPO area to the same extent as civil servants in the Scottish Office are co-operating with Scottish fishermen?

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

We are having thorough discussions with the Yorkshire and Anglia FPO about the measures that are needed to enable it to manage a block allocation satisfactorily. I shall be meeting members of the United Kingdom federation of FPOs on Monday on that and many other subjects. It is important to ensure that the information-gathering procedures are satisfactory and that there are disciplinary powers to enable the allocation of quotas to be carried through. I do not want to anticipate the outcome of the discussions, but I can assure my hon. Friend that discussions are taking place.

Photo of Austin Mitchell Austin Mitchell Chair, Treasury & Civil Service Sub-Committee, Opposition Whip (Commons)

Will the Minister accept the gratitude of Grimsby pair fishermen for the quotas, which represent an enormous improvement for them? Bearing in mind that Grimsby depends essentially on cod and that cod is the fish stock which has been cut in this year's allocations, will he attempt to obtain a greater allocation from Norway to compensate for the decline in our catches? Secondly, will he urge that the same tough quotas be imposed on our European partners as are imposed on our fishermen?

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

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for expressing the gratitude of Grimsby fishermen. He will know that when I was in Grimsby I discussed sectoral quotas and said that I was thinking actively about them. I am glad that it was not long after those discussions that I was able to take specific action. The hon. Gentleman may know that two of the three company groups with sectoral quotas in the United Kingdom are based on Grimsby. This flexibility will greatly help Grimsby.

We have raised constantly with the Commission and the Council of Ministers our discussions with Norway for the allocation of herring this year, and possible compensation.

The quotas apply to the other member states as well and it is important that they are all enforced properly. That is why we have constantly put strong emphasis on the importance of the European inspectorate, which is now in place.

Photo of Mr Michael Brown Mr Michael Brown , Brigg and Cleethorpes

Following from the question, is my hon. Friend aware that some fishermen may not be able to take up the additional cod quota because they fish for other species? Will my hon. Friend consider further the possibility of transferring the cod quota system to other species?

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

That depends on the species that my hon. Friend has in mind. We are talking about pressure stocks. It is important that we meet the quotas for cod this year, not least for conservation reasons. How one reaches quotas in other pressure stocks will depend on how the scheme works during the year.