HC Deb 08 April 1930 vol 237 cc1932-5

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland whether his attention has been drawn to continued complaints of illegal trawling and consequent losses of gear by inshore fishermen in the Moray Firth, and to other complaints of illegal trawling from other parts of the coasts of Scotland; whether he is yet in a position to state his intentions with regard to the provision of fast motor-boats for fishery protection, the increase of penalties on conviction for illegal trawling, and the other outstanding recommendations of Lord Mackenzie's Committee; and whether he contemplates doing anything to suppress illegal trawling?

The SECRETARY of STATE for SCOTLAND (Mr. William Adamson)

Since 28th January when the hon. and gallant Member asked a similar question no complaints of illegal trawling in the Moray Firth have been received, but five complaints have been received from the West Coast of Scotland. No definite evidence was forthcoming in support of these complaints. Five complaints of illegal seine-net fishing in the Moray Firth have been received. Three are under investigation; one was investigated by the Procurator Fiscal, who decided that the evidence did not justify proceedings, and in the remaining case there was no evidence sufficient to enable the matter to be reported to the Procurator Fiscal. As regards the provision of fast motor boats, I would refer to my reply to the hon. and learned Member for East Fife (Mr. Millar) on the 25th March; and as regards the other matters referred to in the latter part of the question, I am not in a position to add to my previous reply to the hon. and gallant Member.


Was not the right hon. Gentleman's previous answer on this question to the effect that he was giving the recommendation of Lord Mackenzie's Committee his consideration, and can he say how many more months it will take before he can come to a decision as to when these vital recommendations can be put into effect for the prevention of illegal trawling?


Is the Secretary of State for Scotland not aware that the number of complaints received is only one-tenth part of a decimal of the

Illegal Trawling.
Period. Complaints received. Number of prosecutions. Number of convictions.
(a) Year 1929 32 13 12
(b) Since 1st January, 1930, to date … 10 5 5
Illegal Seine-Net Fishing
(a) Year 1929 … … … … 31 12 12
(b) Since 1st January, 1930, to date … 4*
* 3 of these cases have been reported to the appropriate Procurator Fiscal and are at present under consideration.

number of offences that are committed, and how can he expect to get evidence of illegal trawling if he does not provide enough boats to catch illegal trawlers?


In my reply to a similar question quite recently, I gave a list of the boats that we have on duty dealing with illegal trawling.


Is this not a political stunt on the part of hon. Members of this House?


Will the right hon. Gentleman reply to the last part of the question, whether he contemplates doing anything to suppress illegal trawling? Is it not time that the Secretary of State for Scotland instituted proceedings against those people who have been caught trawling illegally? Illegal trawling ought to be stopped at once, and that is the only way to stop it. This illegal trawling has been going on round the coast of Scotland for years under every succeeding Secretary of State for Scotland, and it is still going on.


Will the right hon. Gentleman answer my supplementary question as to whether he is still considering this matter?


We shall never get on at all at this rate.


asked the Secretary of State for Scotland the number of complaints made to his Department against trawling within the limit; the number of prosecutions that have followed; and the number of convictions that have been made?


I propose, with the hon. Member's permission, to circulate a statement in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

Following is the statement:


asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he has considered the evidence placed before him with regard to the damage done to cod nets by foreign trawlers recently in the Moray Firth; and what action he proposes to take in the matter?

The PRESIDENT of the BOARD of TRADE (Mr. William Graham)

I have considered the information to which the hon. Member refers, and I do not think that in any of these cases there is sufficient evidence to justify His Majesty's Government in asking the foreign Government concerned to take proceedings for an offence against the North Sea Fisheries Convention of 1882. In any event, action for compensation would have to be taken in the foreign Court by the plaintiffs. It should be understood that to leave nets for a prolonged period unlighted and unwatched is to incur very serious risk of loss or damage.

Major WOOD

Will the right hon. Gentleman publish the evidence which was submitted to him so that fishermen may know what damage was done?


I regret that I can hardly at the moment undertake to make it public, but I will gladly discuss it with any hon. Member who is interested. I feel that on the evidence before me I could not take action beyond what is indicated in the reply.