HC Deb 22 June 1978 vol 952 cc699-701
11. Mr. Clegg

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what is the current state of negotiations concerning reciprocal fishing rights with third countries.

12. Mr. David James

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food when he will introduce conservation measures under the Fisheries Limits Act 1976.

Mr. John Silkin

I shall be making a statement about the outcome of this week's Fisheries Council after Question Time.

Mr. Clegg

We look forward with interest to what the right hon. Gentleman has to say, but may I put to him a question which is not directly concerned with the EEC? There are reports that Argentina has granted West Germany and Japan permission to fish in the waters off the Falkland Islands. As the right hon. Gentleman well knows, that area has been looked to as a possible British resource. What has he to say on the subject?

Mr. Silkin

The point that the hon. Gentleman raises about the exploitation of the South Atlantic waters around the Falkland Islands was raised in the fisheries debate last week, and I then said that the Government were considering the advisability and technical appreciation of the advantages. I shall look into the reports which the hon. Gentleman has just drawn to my attention. During the course of this week, I confess, my eyes have been on a slightly different form of 200-mile limit, but I shall certainly look into the matter and consider whether there is anything I need to do.

Mr. James

Since we have been overtaken by events in the past 24 hours, will the Minister tell the House whether, having failed to achieve agreement during his June meetings, he has the firm intention to reach a successful conclusion in July?

Mr. Silkin

There is always the possibility of a successful conclusion to a fishing agreement provided that our partners in Europe, the majority of whom do not fish in our waters anyway, realise four things. The first is that fishing, to us as an island people, is something that is of far more importance than it is to any of them. Secondly, our partners must recognise that the conservation of stocks of fish is vital if we are to have a viable fishing industry. Thirdly, it must be recognised that, as a coastal State, we must have the means of enforcing the quotas which other members of the Community so glibly throw around the table. Fourthly, it must be recognised that we —as the coastal State which has brought in the largest share of waters containing fish for which Community fishermen as well as ourselves fish—are entitled to a preferential share of that fish.

Several Hon. Members


Mr. Speaker

Order. There will be an opportunity for questions following the Minister's statement.