HC Deb 16 April 1981 vol 3 c225W
Mr. John MacKay

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (1) if he is satisfied that the storage of live Canadian lobsters in sea-tanks poses no threat of gaffkaemia infection to the native stock in adjacent waters;

(2) what percentage of imported live Canadian lobsters is at present estimated to be suffering from gaffkaemia.

Mr. Buchanan-Smith

The risks of infection to native stocks are likely to be small if merchants follow the MAFF advice on handling imported lobsters. It is particularly important that the water from holding tanks that have contained Canadian lobsters should not be emptied directly into the sea where there are native stocks.

The virulence of gaffkaemia increases in warmer weather. During the recent winter the incidence of the disease in samples of Canadian lobsters tested by MAFF scientists has averaged about 5 per cent. However, during 1980 the average incidence in the samples taken was some 28 per cent.

My right hon. Friends the Secretaries of State for Scotland and Wales and I are examining what further action should be taken.