HC Deb 08 May 1907 vol 174 cc243-4

I beg to ask the Prime Minister under what section of the Herring Fishery Act of 1889 the Scottish Office are entitled to prosecute British subjects for alleged illegal fishing in respect to an individual breach of the law or of any Scottish bye-law when no offence has been committed by the vessel or master to whom he is subordinate; whether there is any precedent for prosecuting a subordinate fisherman for any alleged offence at sea by any maritime power adjoining the North Sea or elsewhere; whether, now that the Norwegian Government have come to an understanding with the Scottish Office that they will not support Norwegian masters any more in cases of proceedings against them in Scotland for trawling in the Moray Firth, they will in future consider the desirability and justice of prosecuting the Norwegian master in accordance with precedent as the representative of the owners, and not prosecute English subordinate fishermen who had signed on in Norwegian vessels; and whether the Government will make it officially known at the fishery ports that the Government of Norway have surrendered their right to fish in the prohibited waters of the Moray Firth under the North Sea Convention and international law.


The Fishery Board by-law No. 10, issued in terms of Section 7 of the Act, 1889, provides that no person shall use any team or otter trawl, and British subjects offending against this provision are clearly liable to prosecution. I am not aware whether subordinate fishermen have been proceeded against by other maritime powers. With regard to the last part of the hon. Member's Question, no surrender, such as is therein mentioned, has been made by the Norwegian Government, but as I informed the hon. Member on the 30th April the Norwegian Government have intimated that orders have been issued to the Fishery Director of Norway to warn all owners of Norwegian fishing boats who trawl in the Moray Firth to cease from so doing, and not to expect the support of their Government in the case of proceedings against them in Scotland.


Will the right hon. Gentleman answer the last paragraph of my Question?


If it is usual no doubt it will be done. If it is not usual perhaps the hon. Member will put another Question.


Is the right hon. Gentleman in favour of English fishermen being accorded the same terms as the foreign fishermen?


Order, order!