HC Deb 01 November 1979 vol 972 cc1423-4
1. Dr. David Clark

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what representations he has received relating to over-fishing in the North Sea.

The Minister of State, Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (Mr. Alick Buchanan-Smith)

We have received representations that in the absence of a properly enforced Community quota system fish stocks in the North Sea and elsewhere are being jeopardised by unregulated fishing.

Dr. Clark

In view of that, and in view of the Prime Minister's back-down on the financing of the EEC yesterday, what assurance can the Minister give British fishermen that they are not next in line for a sell-out?

Mr. Buchanan-Smith

There was no back-down by my right hon. Friend yesterday. As it seems to take a long time to sink in to the hon. Gentleman, I repeat that fisheries are not up for trading.

Mr. Mason

Is it not a fact that last last year the Dutch and German fishing fleets plundered our waters and took 40 per cent. above their quota of table fish? What have the Government done about that? What protestations have the Government made to the Dutch and Germans?

Mr. Buchanan-Smith

The right hon. Gentleman does not need me to remind him that his party was in government at that time. Perhaps he should tell the House what he was doing. I repeat that of prime importance for the conservation of fish stocks is an effective common policy that takes full account of British fishing interests. Only in that way can we ensure that fishing is properly regulated and stocks not destroyed.

Mr. Robert Hughes

Repeated reports are being received of the ban on herring being totally disregarded by some vessels. Is there not a great danger that fishermen will get very excited, as indeed they have done in Aberdeen this week? What investigations has the right hon. Gentleman been able to make into the landing of herring in Denmark and France?

Mr. Buchanan-Smith

I am grateful to the hon. Member for raising that matter, as it is one that causes us real concern. The moment we received the reports we contacted the Danish authorities to ask for information from them and to offer our help in any way that was necessary. Negotiations are still continuing.

Mr. Speaker

In the spirit of the discussions last night, I hope that right hon. and hon. Members will try to ask one supplementary question when they are called. I hope that they will try hard to do this.