HC Deb 03 March 1976 vol 906 cc1288-9
3. Sir John Gilmour

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland whether he will set up a committee to investigate the use of purse seine nets in the waters off Scotland, and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Hugh D. Brown

I do not consider that the use of purse seine nets is giving rise to problems which require investigation by a committee, but I keep all types of fishing under review.

Sir J. Gilmour

Does the Minister agree that, with the majority of fish species being subject to quota restrictions, there is a grave risk, if there is a major extension of purse seine netting, that there will have to be a restriction of the number of boats fishing?

Mr. Brown

This is a problem. Last night the hon. Member was accused of being a progressive Conservative. Now he is being a Luddite. Increased efficiency can bring blessings and problems, and we are watching the point in co-operation with the industry

Mr. Watt

Does the Minister agree that there is little point in Scottish fishermen adopting conservation measures while the Danes and Belgians go on scooping up immature fish? Only three weeks ago about 17,000 tons of immature herring were landed in Danish ports.

Mr. Brown

That is not the original Question I was asked. Of course, this is a problem linked to some extent to the method of catching. We are keeping a watch on the present methods being used by the fleets under our control and responsibility.

Mr. Gray

If the Minister is not satisfied that the present situation requires the setting up of a committee, will he have another look at the whole question of fishery protection, which is grossly inadequate, which is adversely affecting inshore fishermen throughout Western Scotland?

Mr. Brown

I reject that allegation. The protection is not grossly inadequate. I know that the hon. Member has a local problem and I have written to him about it. We hope to provide added protection in the next few months. The Fishery Protection Service is giving good service. This is just one of the many considerations we continually bear in mind.

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