Sir Geoffrey Johnson Smith
asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what progress is being made by the salmon sales group of the National Water Council; and if he will make a statement.
The salmon sales group was set up by the National Water Council as a direct result of the Government's consultation paper on the review of inland and coastal fisheries in England and Wales, and I understand that its report "Salmon Conservation — A New Approach" has been published today.
The group's role has been to see what is needed in order to control the illegal taking of salmon, with particular reference to the introduction of a tagging scheme, and I would like to acknowledge and thank it for the effort which it has devoted to this very difficult question. As the group itself recognises, a good deal of work has still to be done before any such scheme can be contemplated, and the next step will be to consider whether it can be given practical application, taking account of effective enforcement, including the problem of illegal fish being cut into salmon portions, of salmon caught outside England and Wales and of the availability of the resources needed to administer a possible scheme. I am arranging for my officials to meet the salmon sales group and thereafter other interested parties to discuss these and other matters.