HC Deb 30 June 1982 vol 26 cc883-4
10. Mr. Myles

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will set up an inquiry to investigate the problem of reduced salmon stocks in Scottish rivers.

Mr. John MacKay

My right hon. Friend has no plans to do so, but he is watching this situation carefully.

Mr. Myles

I am sure that my hon. Friend, as a keen angler, is aware of the fall in salmon stocks. Is he aware of the serious effects of this on rural economies in areas such as Speyside and Deveronside?

Mr. MacKay

I am well aware of the problem. I am also aware of the reported decline this year, particularly from salmon netting stations. There is, however, no further evidence to show whether this is a temporary decline or a long-term change. A working party is examining matters relevant to the international management of salmon stock and I hope that the creation of the Atlantic salmon convention will be useful in this regard.

Mr. Grimond

As the problem has been going on for some time, presumably the Scottish Office has been examining it for some time. If there is not to be an investigation, what conclusions has the Minister reached about the reasons for the decline in stocks?

Mr. MacKay

At the risk of indulging in a lecture on the cyclical nature of salmon, I should point out that it is early in the year to make a global decision about the decline in stocks. We all realise that stocks are under pressure, but, as has been found in previous years, the grilse run later in the year may be higher than usual. Therefore, we should wait until the end of the year to review the position. Nevertheless, we have been attempting to control and keep down the number of salmon caught off Greenland and the Faroes, both of which areas have increased interception of Atlantic salmon and are undoubtedly causing damage.