HC Deb 18 November 1958 vol 595 cc997-8
28. Mr. Malcolm MacMillan

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what action he is taking, following protests by a skipper of a Buckie fishing vessel and by Lewis District Council, about the malicious destruction by a trawler of £200 worth of the Buckie vessel's nets and gear in Minch waters.

40. Mr. Duthie

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland whether he will make a statement concerning the damage to gear sustained by the Buckie motor herring fishing vessel, "Braes of Strathlene", recently in the Minch at the hands of a German trawler; and what action he proposes to take in the matter.

Mr. N. Macpherson

My right hon. Friend has not received any protest from the skipper or agent of the "Braes of Strathlene" and has no evidence to show that the damage was malicious. My right hon. Friend understands that the vessel causing the damage was not identified and so no action could be taken against it. Before my right hon. Friend received the telegram from the district council, arrangements had already been made to strengthen the fishery protection patrol in the North Minch, and these arrangements will be continued as long as necessary.

Mr. Malcolm MacMillan

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that in this area there is a very strong feeling that instead of sending the British Navy to bully the Icelandic people and to police their waters—[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."]—there is pro-Icelandic feeling among fishermen in a very large part of the country—we might well consider using the British Navy to protect our own fleets in our own waters against what are known to be German fleets of trawlers? Will some action on those lines be taken? Will the hon. Gentleman consider an extension of the limits of the Minch area for at least an experimental period to try to help the fisheries there instead of having so much concern all the time with the Icelandic problem?

Mr. Macpherson

There was a continuous patrol in the area last week, except on Sunday. Her Majesty's Government regard as unwarrantable any unilateral extension of territorial or exclusive fishery limits beyond what is permissible in international law. They hope that what was left unsettled at the International Conference on the Law of the Sea at Geneva earlier this year will be settled by a later conference.