HC Deb 28 July 1927 vol 209 cc1448-50

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland whether he is aware that on the Sabbath day, 17th July, a Dutch trawler was trawling with the otter trawl in prohibited waters, about 11 miles within the limit and six miles south of Ailsa Craig, and was discovered so trawling by the fishery cruiser "Vigilant," who, however, did not arrest her but arrested the Fleetwood trawler "Alida," who was near the said Dutch trawler; and will he take steps to have the law altered so as to enable foreign trawlers to be subject to the same Regulations as British trawlers?


My right hon. Friend is aware of the cases referred to. The Dutch trawler in question was reported under the Trawling and Prohibited Areas Prevention Act, 1909, in terms of which she will be prevented from landing a catch at a British port during a period of two months. As the hon. and learned Member is doubtless aware the enforcement against foreign vessels of the law which prohibits trawling in such areas raised difficult questions of international law and the Act of 1909 was passed as an alternative remedy in the case of foreign trawlers.


Cannot the hon. and gallant Gentleman get that law altered? Is it not absurd that while Russia has a 12-mile limit for foreign trawlers and America has a 12-mile limit in regard to bootlegging we cannot do anything to protect our own fishermen?


As the hon. and learned Member knows these matters have been subjects for discussion with foreign countries for many years, and we do our best to see that these Regulations may be made applicable and it is only by the consent of foreign countries that this can be done.


Is the Under-Secretary not aware that this is a question which we have raised here time and again. These foreign trawlers can afford to pay the £100 fine, when they can get away with a cargo of the value of £1,000; consequently, they pay no attention to this matter? Can tale hon. and gallant Gentleman not devise ways and means of withdrawing the certificates in such cases?


"Wrong question!"


asked the Secretary of State for Scotland whether he is aware that John Crewdson, trawl fisherman, Fleetwood, master of the steam trawler "Alida," FD. 192, was, on 17th July, caught fishing in prohibited waters near the south end of Arran on the Clyde Estuary, about six miles from Ailsa Craig, and further was found to have covered or concealed the name letters and the number of the said trawler by painting them out; that the said trawler was 11 miles within the limit; that the sheriff substitute, on convicting him of both offences, said that such offences were frequent and fined the accused £100, with forfeiture of net, for the one offence and £20 for the other; and will he now seek statutory power for the imposition of penalties sufficient to stop such offences?


In this case the supplementary question has come before the main question but the same answer will do for both. My right hon. Friend is aware of the case referred to. There has of late years been a considerable falling-off in the numbers of trawling offences in Scottish waters generally and my right hon. Friend does not consider that legislation for the provision of increased penalties is at present urgently required. The matter will, however, be kept under careful observation.


Has the Under-Secretary noticed that the Sheriff substitute who tried this case, and has tried a considerable number of these cases recently, says that they are very frequent, and does that not show that the penalties are inadequate, especially when compared with foreign countries like Iceland and Denmark?