HC Deb 25 March 1976 vol 908 cc619-20
14. Mr. Trotter

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food how many tons of fish from the North Sea have been granted by him under quota to Communist countries under the North East Alantic Fisheries Agreements.

Mr. Bishop

By international agreement the North-East Atlantic Fisheries Commission is responsible for the management of fish stocks in the North Sea. Quotas are negotiated by the fifteen member States of the Commission taking into account traditional fishing patterns.

Mr. Trotter

May I ask the Minister how many more of our fishermen have to join the dole queues before he will accept that the industry is in need of help? Having given way weakly over quotas, will he assure the House that there will be no such action when defending the interests of the industry in Common Market negotiations?

Mr. Bishop

If the hon. Gentleman is suggesting that we have not had our fair share of the quotas under the North-East Atlantic Fisheries Commission allocations, I remind him that in the North Sea the total amount of fish for all countries is 718,000 tons of which the United Kingdom has 213,000 tons and the Communist countries 76,000 tons. The basis of the decisions on quotas is the state of the fish stocks, and the maximum sustainable yields as given by the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea and other advisory bodies on fishing resources.

Mr. Jopling

Will not the Minister of State realise that these excessively low priced imports are just one of the factors causing the fishing industry to be in an even greater mess than at any time during the last two years? Will he further realise that we are sick to death of his answers that he is having talks and discussions and considering matters? Will he take up the suggestion by my right hon. Friend the Member for Cambridgeshire (Mr. Pym) a few moments ago— that this matter should be put into the hands of the Prime Minister to see whether he can retrieve the industry from its tragic position?

Mr. Bishop

The hon. Gentleman must know that we have had to start from the position in which his Government left us some years ago when they negotiated the Treaty of Accession. We have done our best, in the last year or two in which we have been responsible to give the industry the wind of support it needs, pending the outcome of the Law of the Sea Conference and the reappraisal of the common fisheries policy. The industry has had improvements as a result of our efforts and we are pursuing the negotiations most urgently.