§ Mr. Beith
asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what is the latest information he has on the results of research into the effect of seals on fishery resources; and what provisions he has made to ensure that policy towards seals is based on scientific assessment of seal behaviour and ecology.
§ Mr. Buchanan-Smith
The International council for the exploration of the sea has recently provided advice on the interaction between grey seal populations and fisheries and a copy of its report has been placed in the Library of the House.
My right hon. Friend the Home Secretary has responsibility for the conservation of seals in England and Wales. Under the Conservation of Seals Act 1970 he is required to consult the natural Environment research council, which has a statutory duty to provide him with scientific advice on matters related to the management of seal populations before issuing a licence for the killing or taking of seals in the close season.