§ MAJOR RASCH (Essex, S.E.)
I beg to ask the First Lord of the Admiralty whether he is aware that Government lighters from Sheerness are in the habit of discharging mud and rubbish into the fishing grounds between the Nore Sand and Sheerness Middle Ground, thereby contravening the Sea Fisheries Regulation Act and the bye-laws of the Sea Fisheries Committee, and inflicting great loss on Essex fishermen, by damaging nets and spoiling the grounds; and whether he will issue an Order directing Government dredgers, like those belonging to contractors and Vestries, to deposit their refuse at a safe distance from the fishing grounds?
§ LORD G. HAMILTON
A few years ago, when it was decided to dredge a new ship channel in the Medway, the sites between the Nore Sand and Sheerness Middle Ground were chosen for 12 the deposit of the material so dredged as the least likely to prove injurious to navigation or fisheries. The mud dredged from the basins in the dockyard at Sheerness is also deposited there, but no rubbish is discharged on those sites by Government vessels. The provisions of the Sea Fisheries Act do not apply in this instance, as the sites in question are within the limits of the Dockyard Port of Chatham and Sheerness, over which the Admiralty possesses exclusive jurisdiction. The effect of these deposits is carefully watched, and there is no reason to suppose that any injury has resulted, or will result, to the navigable channels or the local fisheries, which are little followed in that part of the estuary, the quantity of material deposited by the Government lighters being exceedingly small, as compared with the large and deep spaces available for its reception.
§ MAJOR RASCH
I have to thank the noble Lord for his answer; but I should like to know whether, if it is found that the deposits of mud are injurious to the fisheries, he will give orders to have the practice stopped?
§ LORD G. HAMILTON
Any allegation of that kind, which is supported by reliable evidence, will be taken into consideration. I think, however, it will be found that my statement is correct, that no injury has been inflicted on the fisheries.