HC Deb 17 July 1997 vol 298 cc514-5
9. Mr. Mitchell

To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food how he intends to balance (a) fishing capacity reduction and (b) effort limitation in reaching the targets set out in the multi-annual guidance programme. [7283]

Mr. Morley

My colleagues and I are discussing this with leaders of the fishing industry.

Mr. Mitchell

I hope that my hon. Friend agrees that the combination of effort and capacity targets is a bad idea because it makes it difficult to secure transparency and to know what is going on with regard to limitation of effort by our competitors. I hope that he further agrees that, given that the reductions demanded of us will be so massive, it will be impossible to reach them without substantial decommissioning funds from the Treasury to help the industry and without some kind of set-aside net-aside for tie-ups from Brussels. If we cannot reach such targets, we will have no access to European funding, which all our competitors have had and the British industry needs.

Mr. Morley

I know that my hon. Friend has been a long-standing campaigner on behalf of his constituents and the British fishing industry. I know that he understands, as we do in government, that part of the problem that the industry is facing is due to the failure of the previous Administration under MAGP III in making progress in effort reduction. The fact remains, however, that there is a serious problem with overcapacity, as my hon. Friend knows. We have to tackle that with the industry. We want to give the industry the widest options concerning effort control. There is of course also a case for decommissioning, for which we have some funds available—£12 million. As he knows, we are talking with the industry about the best way of using those funds and the various options available.