HC Deb 02 February 1959 vol 599 cc9-10
15. Mr. Hector Hughes

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, in view of the International Fisheries Convention for the Conservation of Fish Stocks in the North-East Atlantic Ocean, which was signed by Her Majesty's Government in London on 24th January, 1959, what further steps remain to be taken by the various nation signatories to that Convention in order to make it operative; and when and where it will come into effect in relation to the fishing grounds customarily now used by British fishing vessels.

18. Mr. Duthie

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food whether he will make a statement on the agreement that has been reached on a more comprehensive convention for conservation of fish stocks in the waters of concern to the British fishing industry.

33. Mr. G. R. Howard

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food when the convention for the conservation of fish stocks in northern waters is expected to take practical effect.

Mr. John Hare

The Convention covers all the major areas customarily fished by the British fleets and has so far been signed by ten of the fourteen States represented at the recent Conference. The other four are confidently expected to add their signatures shortly. The Convention provides a framework within which the countries concerned will be able to consider together any kind of conservation measure in respect of any or all species of fish. The date on which it will come into force will depend upon the dates on which the several States ratify it.

The Convention will shortly be laid before the House as a White Paper and, in the meantime, copies of the text are available in the Library.

Mr. Hughes

Is it not a fact that the Convention cannot come into force until it is signed by all the nations signatory to it? Is it not the case, as the Minister has said, that four are still outstanding? What is the reason for the delay? When will it come fully into force?

Mr. Hare

As I have already indicated, I have every hope that those four countries will sign very soon—I shall be very surprised if that is not the case. Once that is so, the Convention can come into force.

Mr. Duthie

Will the right hon. Gentleman obtain the views of the fishing industry as speedily as possible so that this country may be in a position to give a lead in the ratification of this document?

Mr. Hare

Certainly. I shall be in close touch with the fishing industry on this matter. I hope that the House will agree that this may well be a very useful step towards better conservation measures on which the whole future of fishing largely depends.

Mr. Champion

Is Iceland a signatory to this Convention and, if so, might it not be the prelude to agreement on the very difficult question of fishing in the coastal waters of Iceland?

Mr. Hare

I, too, express the hope contained in the hon. Member's supplementary question. Iceland is a signatory to the Convention.