HC Deb 29 March 1956 vol 550 c2327
14. Sir R. Boothby

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what action he is taking to prevent excessive fishing in the southern bight of the North Sea which, according to the report published by his Department, was partially responsible for the shortage of mature herrings in November of last year.

The Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (Mr. D. Heathcoat Amory)

As my hon. Friend will know from the statement to which he refers, the biological explanations of the recent changes are incomplete. I have instructed my representatives on the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea to ask the Council to arrange for an intensified study of the whole problem by their Herring Committee which is representative of the several countries whose fleets fish these stocks. The present International Fisheries Convention covering the North Sea does not provide for the regulation of the herring fishery.

Sir R. Boothby

Arising out of that Answer, is my right hon. Friend aware that it is estimated that the Danish catch of immature herrings alone has reached the colossal total of 100,000 tons a year—that is to say, about eighteen hundred million fish? In view of that, and in order to expedite matters, could he not make some direct representations to the Danish Government so that the experts of our Government and theirs—and possibly of the Dutch Government—could at least have a preliminary discussion on the matter, because it is urgent?

Mr. Amory

I agree with my hon. Friend that this is a very important and serious matter. I am also aware of the inroads made into the stocks of fish by the very heavy catches by Continental countries. I will consider the suggestion my hon. Friend has made.