HC Deb 09 December 1964 vol 703 cc1527-8
10. Mr. G. Campbell

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland to what extent, following the recent extension of fishing limits, he has considered the possibility of alternating conservation zones so that they are not permanently fixed, as at present, within the three-mile belt; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Willis

The restrictions on certain methods of fishing inside the threemile belt were made primarily in the interests of small boat fishermen; where their purpose is conservation it is to protect plaice nursery grounds, which are nearly all inside the three-mile belt. My right hon. Friend can see no advantage, therefore, in the hon. Member's suggestion.

Mr. Campbell

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that this idea is supported by experienced skippers of inshore fishing boats in the north of Scotland, and probably elsewhere, and that the idea is that over periods of perhaps five or 10 years some of the area between three and six miles might be put into conservation, while the area from the shore up to three miles might be brought into fishing use? A long-term rotation of this kind could be beneficial.

Mr. Willis

It is difficult to see how this proposition would affect the plaice beds. It would not affect them at all. With regard to other forms of fishing, fish migrate from belt to belt. There does not seem to be anything to be achieved by changing the present procedure.

Mr. Hector Hughes

Does my hon. Friend realise that the complications from which Scottish fishermen in the North Sea suffer already are great enough, and that the solution to their difficulties is not that indicated in the Question, but lies in protecting the existing rights—something which has not been done—and seeing that the fishing industry is properly preserved?

Mr. Willis

I am not quite sure what my hon. and learned Friend is suggesting, or what he wants an answer to, but if he is suggesting that the Moray Firth should be closed, perhaps I might point out that this was debated when the new limits were imposed, and the decision at that time was that in the best interests of fishing nothing further should be done.