Mr. John David Taylor
asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food why he has opposed, at the European Economic Community Council of Ministers, the Commission's proposal that herring spawning grounds in the north Irish Sea should remain open until 21 September each year; and if he will make a statement on this decision of the Council of Ministers to reject the Commission's proposal and instead to close the grounds from I September.
§ Mr. Gummer
Fishing for herring is prohibited in two areas of the North Irish sea to protect the spawning grounds. When the closures for 1986 were proposed, the United Kingdom requested a starting date of 1 September in order to safeguard the traditional drift net fishery on the Mourne spawning grounds. Subsequently, at the request of the Northern Irish fishing industry, we asked the Commission to put forward a proposal to amend the starting date for the closure of the Douglas bank spawning grounds to allow this area to remain open until 21 September. The Commission was unwilling to put such a proposal forward for 1986, but I am hopeful that it will do so in its proposals for the quota arrangements for 1987.