§ 27. Sir R. Boothby
asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food whether he has yet reached any tentative conclusions as a result of the investigations which have been taking place into the causes of the scarcity of herrings in the North Sea.
The Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (Mr. Derick Heathcoat Amory)
My scientific staff consider that a principal cause of the scarcity of herring in the Southern North Sea is the increase of trawling for adult herring, especially on the spawning grounds in the English Channel. An appraisal of the influence of the expanded trawling for immature herring in other parts of the Southern North Sea awaits the results of investigations instituted by the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea which begin this summer.
§ Sir R. Boothby
Has my right hon. Friend taken note of the very sombre conclusion reached by Dr. Hodgson, his own ex-officer, in his recent book on herring fishing, that the North Sea can supply the human population but not the human population and the livestock of Europe with herring, and that the main cause of the scarcity has been the recent industrial catching of immature fish off the Dogger Bank?
I am aware of that view, and, as my hon. Friend knows, I am very far from complacent about the whole situation. Her Majesty's Government 682 took the initiative last autumn in bringing this matter before the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea. We called a further conference on the subject in March, and, as my hon. Friend knows, we are in favour of expanding the international Convention to include herring problems. I am certainly not feeling complacent about this subject, and we shall follow it up in every way we possibly can.