HC Deb 12 May 1960 vol 623 cc590-1
1. Mr. Wall

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, in view of the failure of the Law of the Sea Conference, what steps he proposes to take to prevent disorderly exploitation of the fishing grounds.

The Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (Mr. John Hare)

The Government have been considering the most appropriate action to take following the failure of the Second Geneva Conference on the Law of the Sea, and are already in touch with Canada and the U.S.A. about the general problem. As the House knows, I am fully aware of the need for speedy action to try and stabilise our fishery relations with those countries off whose shores we mainly fish, and my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs is considering how best to bring this about. As far as conservation is concerned, powers are already available in the two existing Conventions covering the North Atlantic area.

Mr. Wall

Whilst thanking my right hon. Friend for that reply, may I ask him to bear in mind that the voluntary restriction of British trawlers outside a 12-mile limit can obviously be only a temporary matter?

Mr. Hare

I can assure my hon. Friend that I am in the closest touch with all sides of the fishing industry. In fact, I had a further meeting with them this morning.

Mr. Willey

The right hon. Gentleman will appreciate that the Geneva Conference was a very severe disappointment to us. Will he have a word with his right hon. Friend the Leader of the House to see whether we could debate the matter in the House, because that might be helpful? At the same time, will the right hon. Gentleman recognise that the British Trawlers' Federation has been most statesmanlike in its conduct throughout these very difficult circumstances and that, for that very reason, it is important to endeavour to get an expeditious agreement?

Mr. Hare

I think the House will be aware that I have already paid my deep tribute, not only to the British Trawlers' Federation, but also to the workers' side of the industry, which throughout these difficult times has been most helpful. On the other question which the hon. Gentleman has put forward, doubtless my right hon. Friend will note what he has said.

6. Mr. Jeger

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what action he proposes to take to ensure that an adequate supply of fish is available through the British fishing industry, in view of the result of the recent Law of the Sea Conference.

Mr. John Hare

It is too early yet to say what effect the result of the Law of the Sea Conference will have on the catches of fish by the British fishing industry.

Mr. Jeger

The right hon. Gentleman is no doubt aware that trawler owners and fishermen are very concerned about this matter, as large stocks of fish are being landed in Britain, not only from Iceland but from Scandinavia. Will he do something to reassure the fishing industry that its interests will be protected by action which he will take—I hope soon—in bilateral talks between ourselves and Iceland?

Mr. Hare

As the hon. Gentleman knows, I am in close touch with the fishing industry and, as I said earlier, I had a further meeting with its representatives this morning. It is my intention to keep in the closest possible touch with them and to explain what is happening and to work out our problems together and to try to deal with them in the spirit of partnership.

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