§ Mr. Wilson
To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will make a statement on the implications of the Aberdeen sheriff court judgment of 19 January for fisheries conservation policy.
§ Mr. Lang
The Government are still studying the text of the judgment. Changes may be necessary in the wording of fishing vessel licences and in the basis on which prosecutions for certain categories of offence are brought before the courts. However, alleged breaches of the quotas made to individual vessels by fisheries departments will still be reported for prosecution.
§ Mrs. Margaret Ewing
To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what consideration he is giving to the ruling by Sheriff Douglas Risk at Aberdeen sheriff court on 19 January that overfishing charges are not a criminal offence under the Sea Fish Conservation Act 1967 as amended by the Sea Fish Licensing Order 1983; what action he intends to take to amend current legislation; and if he will make a statement.
§ Mr. Lang
The sheriff found that exceeding the allocation made in respect of an individual vessel should be regarded as a contravention of the limitations of fishing vessel licences under section 4(5) of the Sea Fish Conservation Act 1967, rather than a contravention of the842W conditions included in fishing vessel licences under section 4(6) of the above Act. He further found that section 4(6) of the Act could not be regarded as subsuming section 4(5). This judgment has implications for the wording of fishing vessel licences and for the basis on which certain kinds of prosecutions are brought, and the Government are considering these urgently. However, alleged breaches of the quotas made to individual vessels by fisheries departments will still be reported for prosecution. In his judgment, the sheriff acknowledged that prosecutions might be brought under different subsections of the Act or that other steps might be taken to ensure that allocations are adhered to.