HC Deb 24 April 1893 vol 11 cc1018-9

I beg to ask the Secretary for Scotland whether he is aware of the serious damage caused to the herring fishing on the Ayrshire coast by reason of the refusal of the Fishery Board to prohibit seine-net trawling cast of a line drawn from the Island of Cumbrae to Ailsa Craig, as repeatedly petitioned for by the fishermen of Girvan and Ballantrae; whether his attention has been called to the progressive decrease in the number of herrings lauded at Girvan, as shown by the Harbourmaster's books, and if it is correctly stated as follows: From 12th July, 1888, to 12th July, 1889, 8,415 crans; from 12th. July, 1889, to 12th July, 1890, 8,284 crans; from 12th July, 1890, to 12th July, 1891, 5,724 crans; from 12th July, 1891, to 12th July, 1892, 3,044 crans; from 12th July, 1892, to 1st April, 1893, 472 crans; and whether, in view of the poverty suffered in consequence of this state of things among the Ayrshire fishermen, he will direct inquiry to be made into the means which may he taken to remedy it? I wish to explain that I regret the phraseology of the first paragraph seems to imply a charge against the officials of the Fishery Board; but I have no desire it should bear such a construction.


The statistics given in the last paragraph of the hon. Member's question, showing the decline of the herring fishing off the coast of Ayrshire, are substantially correct. As regards the main part of the question, I have to state that in response to a request made by the hon. Member for South Ayrshire, the Chairman of the Fishery Board held an inquiry on the 24th January last, at Girvan, as to the seine-net fishing on the Ayrshire coast, and submitted a Report thereon to the Board on the 9th February. If the hon. Member wishes, I shall be glad to show him a copy of the Report, and a subsequent Memorandum which I have received from the Fishery Board. The Board are still doing everything in their power to enable them to come to a definite conclusion regarding this vexed question, both by collecting statistics and making local inquiries as to the effect of seine-net fishing on the supply of herrings; but they consider that they would not be justified in interfering as regards seine-net fishing until they are able to obtain some definite information which will give reasonable expectation that beneficial results would follow their action. In this view I entirely concur.