HL Deb 22 January 1970 vol 307 cc221-2

3.7 p.m.


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

[The Question was as follows:

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they have any further statement to make about the international conference dealing with herring fishing in the North Sea.]


My Lords, at its meeting in The Hague last week the North Sea Herring Study Group, which was set up by the North East Atlantic Fisheries Commission last year, examined possible measures to restore the herring stocks of the North Sea. In the light of this examination the Group decided to concentrate its attention on proposals to close the various main herring grounds for certain times of the year and on the possibility of combining this with a minimum size for herring. It was agreed that these possibilities should be examined urgently by Government, with a view to further consideration by the Group before the annual meeting of the North East Atlantic Fisheries Commission in May.


My Lords, may I thank the noble Lord for his reply, which is very satisfactory so far as it goes. I am glad that things are moving. Will the noble Lord be very kind and in due course, when there is further information, perhaps give me a hint?


Yes, my Lords. I shall be glad to keep the noble Lord informed.


My Lords, arising out of that Answer, does the noble Lord realise that there has been a great deal of delay in reaching any conclusion at all in this matter, and will he impress on the Group the necessity for reaching some conclusion not later than May?


My Lords, I know that there has been some delay, but of course it is a matter of getting a solution which is not only fair to other countries, but which is accepted by them as being fair, since unless there is agreement somebody is going to steal a march on the rest. For myself I hope that there will be an agreement in May along the lines I have indicated.


My Lords, can my noble friend say whether Russia would be part of this agreement—because they have depot ships and trawlers fishing for days and days on end and carrying the herring away. Herring stocks are getting smaller every year because the sea is being overfished.


My Lords, my noble friend has caught me out on one point with which I am not acquainted. I am not sure whether the Soviet Union is a member of the Group, but I will let him know.

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