HC Deb 29 March 1985 vol 76 cc372-3W
Mr. Onslow

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what action his Department has taken since 1979 to counter the threat to salmon stocks from (a) illegal netting, (b) predation, (c) pollution, (d) water abstraction, and (e) poaching, respectively; and what action his Department takes to monitor salmon stocks.

Mr. John MacKay

The principal measures taken are as follows:

  1. (a) Illegal netting: The ban on drift net fishing for salmon in the sea off Scotland has been continued and enforcement of that ban by the Fishery Protection Service has been stepped up with considerable success. Power has been taken in the Inshore Fishing (Scotland) Act 1984 to prohibit the carriage by British fishing vessels in Scottish waters of certain types of nets used mainly for illegal fishing. Power has also been taken to prohibit fishing for salmon in the sea by specified nets set from the shore.
  2. (b) Predation: Licences have been issued under the Conservation of Seals Act 1970 for defensive shooting of seals at salmon net fishing stations during close seasons and under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 for the shooting of cormorants, goosanders and mergansers to prevent serious damage to salmon fisheries.
  3. (c) Pollution: The prevention of pollution of Scottish rivers is a matter for the river purification boards, but the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries for Scotland has an ongoing research programme to measure the effects of acid deposition and afforestation on freshwater ecosystems. In 1983 the Scottish Development Department published "Water Pollution Control in Scotland: Recent Developments" which reported continuing progress in the field of water pollution control. The report concluded that 99 per cent. of Scottish rivers were now unpolluted or of fairly good quality.
  4. (d) Water Abstraction: Legislation governing the supply and resource protection of waters, together with the power to control the supply of water during periods of drought was consolidated and reaffirmed by the Water (Scotland) Act 1980. Certain problems regarding abstraction were identified by the Scottish River Purification Advisory Committee in its 1978 report on the control of water abstraction. My right hon. Friend intends to introduce legislation as soon as the parliamentary timetable permits to simplify the control provisions in the Spray Irrigation (Scotland) Act 1964 and to extend its application to other forms of irrigation.
  5. (e) Poaching: We have been reviewing Scottish salmon and freshwater legislation and administration with interested organisations. Efforts by district salmon fishery boards and the police to control river poaching continue unabated and there were 324, 411 and 395 prosecutions in 1981, 1982 and 1983, respectively. The final figures for 1984 are not yet available but are thought to be approximately 320. We are considering possible systems of salmon sales control as a means of reducing illegal fishing in the rivers and in the sea.
  6. (f) Monitoring of Salmon Stocks: Research into the state of salmon stocks is carried out at the Freshwater 373 Fisheries Laboratory, Pitlochry. This includes a comprehensive system of catch recording and sampling. Exploitation rates are measured by tagging experiments. Detailed investigations are carried out on selected rivers.

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