THE MARQUESS OF HUNTLY
asked the noble Lord the Secretary for Scotland whether, on the 12th of February last, it was reported to the Fishery Board that the trawler Dania, E. 46, belonging to the Steam Trawling Company Dan, of Copenhagen, was fishing 419 with beam trawl in the Moray Firth; whether since that date other vessels belonging to foreign nations had been reported also fishing there; and whether, while prosecutions were being conducted by the Crown against British fishermen for pursuing their calling, any steps were being or could be taken against foreign fishermen in the same place?
said, that his reply to the noble Marquess's first Question was in the affirmative. The report was made in a registered letter dated the 12th of February by a Trawl Owners' Association to the Scotch Fishery Board, by whom it was received on the 13th of that month. He had great doubt, however, from the reports received from the gunboats in the Moray Firth, whether the Dania had actually been fishing at that time. On the 14th, however, she was seen fishing within the Firth, but the significance of the act was somewhat discounted by the fact that at that time the decision of the second division of the Court of Session—which had since been reversed—was that the fishing in the Moray Firth was open to all vessels. It certainly appeared rather strange to him that the secretary of the Trawl Owners' Association should know so much about the matter. His reply to the second Question was in the negative. He did not think that the third Question of the noble Lord was a judicious one, and it would be still more injudicious for him to answer it. The Question was a hypothetical one, and he did not feel himself at liberty to give a definite answer with regard to what might be done in the event of certain things occurring which had not actually taken place. In the event of such things occurring, it would then become the duty of the authorities to consider and to make known what course of procedure they would adopt. ["Hear, hear!"]