HC Deb 11 February 1977 vol 925 cc869-70W
Mr. James White

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what conservation measures he is taking to control the losses of immature white fish stocks in the North Sea taken in industrial fisheries.

Mr. Millan

The Government are very much concerned about the great waste of immature white fish stocks in the North Sea—particularly haddock and whiting—which are taken as by-catches during the course of industrial fishing for species such as Norway pout. We have consistently pressed, both in the international fisheries commissions and in the context of discussions in Brussels on conservation measures, that strict control of indiscriminate industrial fishing is essential for the protection of the white fish stocks which are already heavily taxed.

The Government are, therefore, today laying before Parliament an order, to come into operation on 21st February, which will ban fishing for Norway pout in a wide area of the North Sea off the north and east coasts of Scotland between 1st August and 31st March each year. This is an urgent and essential conservation measure for the rebuilding of the white fish stocks and has the support of our fishing industry. A recommendation for the banning of fishing for Norway pout in this area has already been made by the North East Atlantic Fisheries Commission. The Government have, however, made clear their hope that this measure can be adopted on a Community basis, even although agreement on this point has not so far been reached.