HC Deb 04 April 1957 vol 568 cc560-1
23. Mr. Edward Evans

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will make a statement on the conservation of the herring fisheries in the North Sea.

Mr. Amory

At the invitation of Her Majesty's Government, an informal Conference of the seven countries which fish for herring in the southern North Sea was held in London three weeks ago to consider this question. The representatives of all countries agreed to ask their Governments to examine urgently with their fishing industries and their scientists what measures might be taken, in the form of a voluntary agreement, to increase the survival of adult herring. particularly on the spawning grounds, in the southern North Sea.

Consideration will be given to a proposal made by the United Kingdom representatives that in the common interest the major spawning ground in the Channel should be closed to fishing during November and December when the herring are gathered there to spawn. Copies of the resolution adopted by the Conference are available in the Library.

Mr. Evans

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that that statement will be very warmly received in those circles which are interested in the herring industry? Can I urge him to keep these matters very much in mind and to see whether we can do something to stop this slaughter of the innocents?

Mr. Amory

I agree that it is a very important question.

Mr. G. R. Howard

Which countries were represented? Can my right hon. Friend say whether discussions took place about regulating the size of mesh and nets at the same time?

Mr. Amory

The conference was attended by representatives from Belgium, Denmark, the Federal Republic of Germany, France, The Netherlands, Poland, and the United Kingdom.

Mr. T. Williams

Will anyone undertake police measures during the period referred to?

Mr. Amory

The difficulty at present is that herring do not come under the International Convention. We should like to see herring brought under the Convention, and we have made suggestions to that effect, but in the meantime the countries concerned must depend on voluntaryad hocarrangements.

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