HC Deb 06 December 1993 vol 234 c99W
Mrs. Lait

To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if she will undertake a survey of the Hastings shingle bank to ascertain the impact on it of the aggregate dredging so far and the implications on the fishery of future dredging proposals.

Mr. Jack

The Ministry's directorate of fisheries research is conducting regular studies of the sediments and benthos in the area of the Hastings shingle bank. Although periodic studies of fish stocks in the English channel do not provide conclusive information about specific areas such as the shingle bank, catch statistics in the area appear to lend some support to the concerns expressed by local fishermen about crabs and sole.

A new survey programme will be starting in January using scallop dredgers in order to establish the distribution of overwintering crabs and to assess the significance of the shingle bank to the eastern channel crab fishery. In addition MAFF scientists are setting up a study to monitor the migration of sole across the bank to the shallow inshore waters. This survey work will cover the period of spawning migration next spring.

We will be weighing the implications of this work very carefully in formulating our advice under the Government view procedure.