§ 16. Mr. Edward Evans
asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food the number of foreign fishing vessels whose owners or officers have been brought before British courts in respect of the agreements made in connection with the findings and agreements on over-fishing in adjacent waters of the British Isles during the past five years.
My Department has no power to institute proceedings against foreign vessels for using nets below the minimum mesh sizes prescribed under the International Fisheries Convention of 1946, nor for landing undersized fish except within the United Kingdom. Three convictions have been obtained in the past five years against foreign vessels landing undersized fish in the United Kingdom.
§ Mr. Evans
Do not those figures indicate that the fines we impose upon foreigners who disregard our regulations bear no comparison with those imposed upon British vessels who infringe foreign regulations? Will the Minister bring our regulations up to date in order to conform with the swingeing fines and penalties imposed on our vessels when they infringe the regulations of foreign Powers?
I agree that the hon. Member's point is an important one, but 1435 I do not think it arises out of this Question. The question which the hon. Member now asks arises out of the infringement of fishing rights in restricted waters, which is not covered either by the Question or the answer here.