HC Deb 01 November 1979 vol 972 cc1433-4
13. Mr. Hicks

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he is satisfied with the effectiveness of the conservation measures designed to protect the South-West mackerel stocks; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Buchanan-Smith

I am concerned at the lack of satisfactory EEC measures to protect the Western mackerel and other fish stocks. In the meantime, we will continue our national measures, including our mackerel licensing, in order to avoid overfishing by the United Kingdom fleet.

Mr. Hicks

Bearing in mind the unfortunate experiences of last winter and the fact that this matter is essentially a United Kingdom problem, will the Minister assure the House and the inshore fishermen of Devon and Cornwall that, in the event of saturation of fishing vessels being reached this year, he will consider extending the present three-mile limit to six miles for smaller vessels?

Mr. Buchanan-Smith

I am aware of the concern that is felt on the subject, especially in relation to smaller vessels. When the fishing starts next week I shall be spending three days in the South-West. I look forward to meeting those involved in the industry and hearing their problems first hand.

Mr. Penhaligon

Is the Minister aware of the lunatic proposal to abolish the Cornwall sea fisheries committee which, at least, protects Cornwall for the first three miles? Will he assure the House that he will not allow such a measure to take place and that he will oppose it?

Mr. Buchanan-Smith

The hon. Gentleman is wrong. There is no proposal to abolish the Cornwall sea fisheries committee. The function and future structure of such committees are being reviewed and discussions are taking place. However, I assure the hon. Gentleman that no decision has been reached yet.