MR. DUNDAS WHITE (Dumbartonshire)
I beg to ask the Secretary for Scotland whether he has powers under Section 5 of The Fisheries (Oyster, Crab, and Lobster) Act, 1877, to prohibit, restrict, and regulate the fishing of oysters at the Bay of Firth, in Orkney; whether if the Oyster and Mussel Fishery (Bay of Firth) Provisional Order Confirmation Bill, which is designed to create a several oyster fishery over an area of about 766 4,500 acres for a period of sixty years, becomes law, he will be precluded from exercising his powers under that section over that area while that Order is in force, and the only remedy in the event of that fishery not being conducted satisfactorily will be to repeal the Order by a certificate under Section 45 of the Sea Fisheries Act, 1868, under which Act the Provisional Order Bill is being promoted; and why the creation of a private monopoly in this public oyster fishery under the Act of 1868 is preferred to the regulation of it, in the interests of the public, under the Act of 1877.
§ THE SECRETARY FOR SCOTLAND (Mr. SINCLAIR,) Forfarshire
The Secretary for Scotland has power under Section 5 of the Sea Fisheries (Oyster, Crab, and Lobster) Act, 1877, to prohibit, restrict, and regulate the fishing of oysters, but that power does not extend to places where a several oyster fishery is constituted by Order under the Sea Fisheries Act, 1868, the remedy for unsatisfactory administration in such cases being as stated by my hon. friend. Mere prohibition, restriction, or regulation would now have little effect in resuscitating the beds at the Bay of Firth. What is wanted is the cultivation of the beds on approved modern methods, and neither the Secretary for Scotland nor the Fishery Board have powers or funds for this purpose. Every effort to get local public bodies to take up the matter failed, and the Fishery Board were compelled to fall back on the proposal for a public syndicate. I am informed that no public interest is being violated, while, on the other hand, the operations of the syndicate will afford employment to a number of the local people.