§ Mr. Blenkinsop
asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food whether he has decided to authorise a cull of grey seals on the Farne Islands this year.
§ Mr. Peart
The advice I have received from the Natural Environment Research Council is that the adverse effect of grey seals on fisheries is real and significant and that the future impact on the commercial fisheries is likely to become more acute with the increasing population of grey seals.
The chairman of the National Trust has recently informed me that, as announced at the annual general meeting of the Trust last November, the Trust are not willing to permit a cull on the Fame Islands this year. The Trust, who regard it as their duty to maintain a healthy seal colony, are not at present satisfied that a sufficient case exists for continuing to cull. In the circumstances I have no option but to accept the Trust's decision, and there will consequently be no cull on the Fame Islands this year. But I am proposing to discuss further with the Trust the justification for continuing the cull in subsequent years in the light of the scientific advice which I have received.