Environment Food and Rural Affairs written question – answered on 19th June 2007.

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Photo of Bill Wiggin Bill Wiggin Shadow Minister (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs whether he has the power to close UK fisheries to foreign-registered pair trawlers to protect dolphins and porpoises.

Photo of Ben Bradshaw Ben Bradshaw Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) (Local Environment, Marine and Animal Welfare)

The Common Fisheries Policy regulation, Council Regulation 2371/2002, provides a number of possible responses to threats faced in relation to fishing activities:

(i) Article 7: Commission emergency powers

These can be used at the request of a Member State where there is a serious threat to the conservation of stocks or the marine environment from the impact of fishing requiring immediate action. The Commission has emergency powers to put in place measures for 6 months applicable to all Member States. Measures are also renewable for a further 6 months. Member states have a right to submit written comments on the request to the Commission. The Commission must decide upon the Member State's request for action within 15 days of receipt. If the Commission decides to take emergency action any Member State can refer the decision to the Council. The Council, acting under qualified majority voting procedures, may take a different decision within one month of the referral.

This article was used successfully by the UK in 2003 to secure protection for the Darwin Mounds when we discovered it was at risk from damaging fishing activities.

(ii) Article 8: Member State emergency measures

These measures can be used by a Member State to take action, subject to confirmation, cancellation or amendment by the Commission, where there is a serious and unforeseen threat to stocks or to the marine environment. Measures would apply to other Member States' vessels but, again, as under Article 7, other Member States have the right to comment and refer the Commission decision on the Member State request to the Council of Ministers. Measures last for 3 months and are non-renewable.

(iii) Article 9: Member State measures within 12 miles

This article provides for Member States to take measures for the conservation of stocks and to minimise the impact of fishing on the marine environment within 12 nautical miles of baselines. Where such measures are liable to affect vessels of other Member States (that is, in practice, those that have historic rights of access under the CFP to the 6-12 nautical mile zone), as with Articles 7 and 8, they are subject to approval by the Commission, open to comment from other Member States and any Commission decision can be referred to the Council of Ministers.

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