HC Deb 17 October 1972 vol 843 cc10-1
3. Mr. Wall

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will make a further statement on the effect of the extension of Icelandic fishing limits on the British fishing industry.

24. Mr. McNamara

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will make a report to the House on the effect of the implementation of the 50-mile limit by the Icelandic Government on the British trawler fleet and on fish prices.

Mr. Anthony Stodart

British trawlers have continued to fish within the new fishing limits claimed by Iceland and there has been no identifiable effect on fish supplies or prices.

Mr. Wall

I thank my hon. Friend for his reply and note the continuation of discussions with the Icelandic Government. Will he agree that any further cutting of trawl wires by Icelandic gunboats will inevitably lead to naval protection for our own vessels on the high seas?

Mr. Stodart

There has been no wire-cutting incident since 22nd September, and I hope that the Icelandic Government will continue to avoid provocation as they know quite well that such a provocation could jeopardise talks.

Mr. McNamara

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that catches have fallen and that this has had an effect upon prices? Can he say what estimate he has made of the effect on the price of fish of a fallback in Icelandic landings, particularly during the winter months?

Mr. Stodart

Catches are certainly down on the same period last year but fishing generally has been less good than the 1971 levels, which were excellent. The prices reflect the shortage of fish generally and it would be remarkably difficult to isolate the question of Iceland in this.

Mr. James Johnson

Unlike the Minister, I have visited the West Hull fish dock. Is he aware that I am told there that the landings in September were satisfactory both in quantity and quality? Does he agree that the hope of all concerned is that both sides will play it cool, as they have been doing? Can he go beyond this and tell us what has been the result of his talks with the leaders of the industry over the last few weeks?

Mr. Stodart

We have had the very closest of contact with the industry, including the Trawlers Federation and representatives of the trade unions concerned. They have been entirely behind Government policy. There have been, as the hon. Gentleman will have seen official talks in Iceland recently. A lot of ground was covered in great detail and I hope that a further meeting will take place at an appropriate time.

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