HC Deb 02 February 1959 vol 599 cc2-3
4. Mr. Hector Hughes

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he is aware that dinoflagellates have recently been found in the seas near Great Britain; that they are dangerous to fish and also to mankind; if he will state what reports he has received as to their prevalence in British fishing grounds and as to their deleterious effects; and what steps he has taken to eliminate them.

The Joint Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (Mr. J. B. Godber)

The very small organisms known as dinoflagellates are widespread in the sea. One kind occasionally found in British waters, when grown in concentrated form under laboratory conditions, has been found toxic to fish. It would constitute no danger at all unless found in a concentration.

Natural concentrations of similar poisonous dinoflagellates occur in some tropical waters, but my right hon. Friend is advised that there is no reason to fear a concentration in the relatively cool waters around the British coast. It would be impossible to eliminate such small organisms from the sea.

Mr. Hughes

Is the Minister aware that these terrible visitors, though small, may, like other small people, be very dangerous, and that they may have a decisive effect upon the coming General Election?

Mr. Godber

That is a prospect which, frankly, had escaped my notice, but I recognise the simile which the hon. and learned Gentleman has drawn between himself and these organisms, which I am sure the House will appreciate.