HC Deb 21 January 1970 vol 794 cc509-10
37. Mr. Dalyell

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what estimate he has made of the relative numbers of Atlantic salmon in Scottish rivers in 1964 and 1969.

Mr. Buchan

Stocks of salmon in rivers cannot be estimated except by reference to catches, statistics of which are published in the annual reports on the Fisheries of Scotland. The 1968 Report (Cmnd. 4024) contained figures for each year from 1952 onwards. Complete figures for 1969 are not yet available but the salmon catch is likely to have been below average and the grilse catch very high.

Mr. Dalyell

Is my hon. Friend aware that there is indeed something rotten in the State of Denmark when the Danish Government can allow their fishermen to take immature fish from off Greenland, thus dissenting from other nations' multinational agreements? Will he bear in mild that there are a growing number of us who refuse to buy Danish butter or bacon until the Danish Government return to civilisation?

Mr. Buchan

I understand my hon. Friend's strength of feeling but, for the second time, I must deplore his language. It is not particularly helpful when we are discussing how to come to a sensible international agreement about the conservation of fishing on the high seas. We are not dealing with an invasion by Fortinbras.

Mr. Stodart

In view of the conflicting reports in some newspapers about the number of Atlantic salmon taken before they get to our shores, should not the hon. Gentleman revise his answer to the previous Question and dissociate such matters as trout fishing and the laws thereon as recommended in the Hunter Report, and concentrate on a pilot scheme for counting the salmon going up our rivers?

Mr. Buchan

The hon. Gentleman does not appear to understand the real subject of discussion here. It is an international problem on the high seas, and, whilst statistically we may be able to know more, it does not alter the basic problem involved, which is how to get an international agreement for the conservation of salmon returning to these waters.