HL Deb 14 January 1987 vol 483 cc629-30WA
Baroness Nicol

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Through what mechanism consultation is effected between the various units carrying out research on grey seals, in particular between MAFF, DAFS and NERC's Sea Mammal Research Unit; and

Whether they will give the levels of expenditure for each of the last five years, including the current financial year, allocated by MAFF for research on the ecology of the grey seal and in particular its interactions with commercial fisheries.

The Minister of State, Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (Lord Belstead)

Under the Conservation of Seals Act 1970 the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) is charged with providing advice on the management of seal populations to the Secretary of State for the Home Department and the Secretary of State for Scotland. NERC have established a committee, on which MAFF, DAFS and the Sea Mammal Research Unit (SMRU), which carries out most of the government-funded research on seals, are represented, to consider questions relating to this advice. This committee also reviews the direction and progress of SMRU research on surveys of seals, their biology and ecology, and considers the relationship of this work with other national and international studies.

The government programme for extra-mural research in fisheries and the aquatic environment is commissioned jointly by MAFF and DAFS and both departments contribute to the costs involved. Individual items within the programme are defined jointly with the contractor and, in the case of seals research carried out by SMRU, formal and informal meetings are arranged with MAFF and DAFS as necessary to discuss progress and developments.

MAFF expenditure on seal-related research for the last five years is as follows:—

1982–83 1983–84 1984–85 1985–86 1986–87 (est) £65,600 £67,600 £70,000 £72,800 £81,000

In the years prior to 1986–87 this expenditure was wholly made up by the MAFF contribution to research commissioned with SMRU. In 1986–87 an estimated £8,300 is allocated to work being carried out by Hull University.