§ MR. HUGH BARRIE (Londonderry, N.)
To ask the President of the Board of Trade, whether he is aware that among the articles recovered from Loch Ryan, in the presence of the General Inspector of Sea Fisheries, were two strongly-built boxes, 30 inches high, chained together and loaded with stones, which showed no trace of oyster spat, and which had wound round them an entanglement of barbed wire, suggesting that such boxes had been laid down by the Oyster Fishing Company to prevent fishing with nets there; and whether, in view of the danger caused thereby to craft sailing in the shallow waters of Loch Ryan, he can state how many such boxes were laid down, and where, how many recovered, how many still unaccounted for, and what effort was made to trace them; whether he is aware that the Oyster Company have been in the habit of depositing stones and rough gravel in the shallow waters of the loch, and that the manager of the Oyster Company, when under examination at a committee meeting of the Stranraer Town Council, stated that his company were acting within their rights in depositing extraneous matter in Loch Ryan; and will he say whether the assurance asked for from the Oyster Company had since been received.
(Answered by Mr. Kearley.) I understand from the General Inspector of Sea Fisheries that only one box was recovered in his presence the description of which accords fairly with the particulars in the hon. Member's Question, except that the 1526 wire with which it was bound was not barbed. The Loch Ryan Oyster Fishery Company state that thirty boxes were placed by them a little below low-water mark, in July, 1905, at various points on the east and west sides of the Loch, and were left down for about four weeks, with a view of collecting spat. At the expiration of that period they took up all the boxes which they could find (twenty-two in number). The remaining eight they were unable to recover, although they frequently endeavoured to find them by grappling and sweeping, and they can only suppose that the missing boxes must have been taken away by other parties. The Company also state that no stones were deposited by them, but that it is essential to the proper working of the fishery to remove the large stones and boulders from the bed of the loch, and to deposit thereon a thin layer of broken pieces of brick, tiles, etc., no larger in size than an oyster shell. I have no information as to the proceedings at the Stranraer Council committee meeting referred to. The Company have given an assurance that they will not in future place in the loch any obstructions such as the boxes referred to.