§ 12. Mr. Bellingham
To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what recent representations he has received in respect of driftnet fishing for salmon off the east coast; and if he will make a statement.
§ The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Scotland (Sir Hector Monro)
Representations from angling and conservation interests continue to be received against the salmon driftnet fishery off the north-east coast of England.
§ Mr. Bellingham
When the Minister leaves the Chamber will he go to the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food and tell his colleagues that they are procrastinating? Surely the time has come to ban, with compensation, the north-east driftnet fishery and all driftnetting in European waters. That is the only way to stop illegal Irish netting off the west coast of Scotland. Surely salmon that migrate into Scottish rivers should be allowed to go through to those rivers to benefit the local communities.
§ Sir Hector Monro
I appreciate the strength of my hon. Friend's feeling—he ensures that he makes it known every Question Time. The Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food is aware of the strong views held by Scottish Office Ministers because of the effect of salmon returning to Scottish rivers to spawn and the economic 309 impact on Scottish towns where angling is carried out. That is why we are so concerned that the right decision—with the scientific evidence to back it up—should be taken. The number of licences has been reduced to 114 through the net limitation order, and we are having 310 continuing discussions. The driftnet fishery in the Bay of Biscay and off the south-west approaches is being discussed by the European Union fishing committee and will be a matter for discussion at the next meeting later this month.