HC Deb 30 June 1983 vol 44 cc693-4
11. Dr. Godman

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will make a statement concerning the determination of herring quotas.

Mr. MacGregor

My right hon. Friend and I shall be discussing this matter at an emergency meeting of the Council of Ministers in Brussels this evening.

Dr. Godman

Is not the Dutch fishing fleet, aided and abetted by the Dutch Government, taking far more than its temporary quota of North sea herring? Will not that greedy, irresponsible behaviour harm other fishermen, particularly Scottish fishermen?

Mr. MacGregor

The fact that the Dutch fishermen are about or above the interim quota emphasises the importance of reaching agreement on the proposals that we shall be discussing tonight.

Mr. Michael Brown

Is it not essential to state categorically to the EC at the Council of Ministers precisely what we think Britain's quota should be?

Mr. MacGregor

I assure my hon. Friend that that is what my right hon. Friend and I did at the one Council of Ministers fishery meeting that we have attended. We shall certainly continue trying to ensure that we get satisfactory quotas for the United Kingdom.

Mr. Buchan

Does the Minister remember that when the common fisheries policy was agreed six months ago it was hailed as settling affairs for the next 20 years? Is it not already coming apart at the seams? Cod, mackerel, herring—all the main species around our waters—are now in question. The only solution that has been put forward is to increase the total allowable catches; in other words, to create bigger catches to satisfy our partners. I hope that the hon. Gentleman will take a tougher line at the meeting tonight than his predecessors have taken over the past few years, because there has been a continual sell-out of British fishing interests over the period.

Mr. MacGregor

I hope the hon. Gentleman agrees that it is important to have a common fisheries policy and that he will welcome the agreement that was reached in January. In any given year there are bound to be arguments and discussions between member states about the relative proportions and that is what we are engaged in at present. It is important to have such discussions much earlier in the year and that is a point that we and other member states have already pressed. It would enable us to reach agreement earlier. In addition, the conservation aspect must be taken into account when we are looking at total allowable catches.

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