HC Deb 17 April 1991 vol 189 cc416-7
17. Mr. Kennedy

To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will assess the prospects for the fishing industry in the north and north-western coastal waters around Scotland; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Lang

The prospects for the fishing industry in the north and north-west depend primarily on the health of fish stocks. The current poor state of the cod and haddock stocks in the North sea and off the west coast of Scotland is of particular concern. The Government therefore regard the conservation of those fishery resources as a major priority if we are to ensure the long-term prosperity of the fishing communities around our coasts.

Mr. Kennedy

The Secretary of State can surely be in no doubt as to the sense of utter chaos and demoralisation in the fishing industry and in the many communities served by and dependent on a healthy and viable fishing industry. Will he now acknowledge that schemes and devices such as the eight-day tie-up and all the problems that that is causing are no substitute for a proper, sensible and comprehensive decommissioning scheme? That is what the industry wants and it smacks of sense. Why have the Government turned their face against such a sensible development?

Mr. Lang

I certainly understand the anxiety that exists in the fishing community. I was able to find out more about that when I visited Peterhead recently. However, the industry also recognises the importance of conserving stocks because unless we do so in a responsible and sensible long-term manner there will be nothing left for the fishing community to fish for in the years to come.

The hon. Gentleman suggests that decommissioning might be the answer to all our problems, but that would be an extremely expensive scheme and, judging from precedents, there is no evidence to suggest that it would work effectively. It is significant that those countries that have decommissioning schemes also have other means of controlling their fishing efforts.

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