HC Deb 17 July 1958 vol 591 cc1407-8
4. Mr. Ridsdale

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food whether he will make a statement about measures being taken to protect Essex coastal waters from overfishing by foreign vessels and to prevent intrusion within the three-mile limit.

Mr. Godber

The conservation measures in force under the International Fisheries Convention of 1946, which is concerned with the protection of most kinds of white fish apply to these waters.

Frequent patrols are carried out in this area by vessels of the Fishery Protection Squadron for the purpose of preventing fishing by foreign vessels within the three-mile territorial sea.

Mr. Ridsdale

Is my hon. Friend aware that it is not competition but over-fishing of which the local fishermen are afraid? Is he aware of the presence of foreign factory ships in the area, and can he say whether in any further negotiations which take place on the three-mile limit a line could be drawn from headland to headland?

Mr. Godber

I will take note of my hon. Friend's suggestion in relation to this. I would remind him that the Government have been taking a leading part in negotiations for a new convention on conservation. It is hoped that the new convention will be adopted and signed within the next six months, but it would require ratification by all the subscribing Governments.

Mr. T. Williams

Can the Minister give any idea how many infringements have been detected over the past eight to ten years and how many prosecutions there have been?

Mr. Godber

I could not give the figure offhand for the last eight to ten years. I am aware that one French vessel was arrested in the Thames Estuary last August.