§ Mr. Simon Hughes
asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (1) whether his Department accepts the conclusions of the Natural Environment Research Council report, "Interactions between Grey Seals and United Nations Fisheries", published in 1984; what research is currently being carried out on interactions between grey seals and fisheries by his Department; and if he will make a statement;
(2) by whom, and where, research projects funded by his Department on (a) the ecology of the grey seal or (b) interactions between grey seals and commercial fisheries, are being carried out; and over what period of time in each case.
§ Mr. Gummer
[pursuant to his reply, 9 February 1987, c. 41]: The report suggests a cautionary approach to the interpretation of the findings because of the complex nature of the questions addressed, with consequent difficulty in arriving at firm conclusions. My Department accepts the report as contributing to the fund of knowledge in this area. As part of the MAFF and DAFS joint external research funding arrangements my Department contributes to the seals research programme of the Sea Mammal Research Unit. This continuing programme covers ecology and fisheries interaction. In addition my Department is funding a survey conducted by Hull university to investigage the scale and cost of seal predation in the fixed net fishery off the north-east coast of England. This is being conducted in two stages, the first stage in relation to the cod fishery has been concluded and a report is in preparation and the second stage concerning the salmon fishery is expected to begin in July this year.