HL Deb 26 October 1966 vol 277 cc288-90

2.54 p.m.


My Lords, I beg leave to ask the second Question which stands in my name on the Order Paper.

[The Question was as follows:

To ask Her Majesty's Government what, if any, discussions have recently taken place with the Danish authorities and others concerned in connection with the large increase in the number of salmon caught in nets off the coast of Greenland.]


My Lords, close contacts are being maintained informally with the Danish and other authorities concerned, but no formal discussions have taken place recently. The real need at this stage is to obtain more scientific evidence so that the countries concerned may be in a position to decide whether measures are required to conserve salmon stocks. To this end a joint Working Party set up by the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea and the International Commission for North-West Atlantic Fisheries has examined and is still studying the problem, and, with the full co-operation of the Danish authorities, United Kingdom scientists are at present engaged on an investigation at Greenland.


My Lords, may I ask the noble Lord this supplementary question? Did not a conference take place in Canada about a year ago with all the countries interested on both sides of the Atlantic? If so, did anything arise from that conference?


My Lords, I am not quite sure where conferences have taken place, but if this matter is to be dealt with it will have to be dealt with by the International Commission which I mentioned just now. It is the practice for that Commission to take action upon scientific evidence as to the state of the stocks. This is the position as it is at the moment. The investigation is proceeding, and I am sure that if it reveals scientific evidence that fishing around Greenland is having the effect which I know the noble Lord fears, they will be expected to take some action.


My Lords, arising out of that reply, could the Minister say how long these scientific investigations are likely to take before any possible action could be taken? And could the noble Lord give the House any information as to the weight in metric tons of salmon which have been taken from Greenland waters this current year?


My Lords, on the latter point I have no immediate information, but I will write to the noble Lord. On his first point, I am afraid that I cannot give him or the House any information that I could stand up to in the future. All I can say is that everyone concerned is seized of the importance of this matter.


My Lords, is the noble Lord aware that all river authorities in this country which have salmon in their rivers are deeply concerned about this matter? Will the noble Lord give the House an assurance that the scientific investigation now proceeding will have all the necessary funds to enable it to go as far as it should, and indeed to enable it to go as fast as it should?


My Lords, I do not want to give too many assurances that I may not be able to stand up to, but clearly, having regard to the source of that question and the noble Lord's knowledge of this matter, I will bring the point he has made to the notice of my right honourable friend.