To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
(1) what estimate she has made of (a) current and (b) projected cod stocks for the next three years in the North sea;
(2) what the Government's policy is in relation to the future of the British trawling industry in the North sea; and if she will make a statement.
The International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) estimates that the spawning stock biomass of cod in the North sea will stand at 55,400 tonnes at the beginning of 2002, which ICES considers to be outside safe biological limits. The biomass in future years will depend on the level of exploitation as regulated by management measures and on natural developments. The Government's policy is to work with EU partners, through recovery plans and other measures, to ensure a sustainable future for trawling and for other sectors of the British fishing industry, exploiting opportunities in the North sea and elsewhere.