HC Deb 07 July 1993 vol 228 c161W
Mr. Lait

To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what assessment she has made of the adequacy of the working of the common fisheries policy; and if she will make a statement.

Mr. Jack

Article 38 of the treaty of Rome provides for a common fisheries policy (CFP). The CFP is principally concerned with managing and sustaining a limited resource in the common interest of all member states.

The United Kingdom benefits from the CFP. The 1983 settlement, which established it, took good account of United Kingdom interests. We secured 37 per cent. of the quotas for the seven main species caught in the North European waters, a figure higher than our historical level of catches, and we reduced the access rights of other member states on our coastal waters by nearly three quarters.

The CFP is subject to continuing assessment by the EC Fisheries Council and in order to fulfil its treaty of Rome requirements it continues to evolve and change when circumstances make this desirable. Improvements in the CFP, notably involving strategies for conservation, were introduced in the mid-term review of the CFP, which was brought to a successful conclusion at the end of 1992 under the United Kingdom Presidency. In last month's Council of Fisheries Ministers, agreement was reached on a new control regulation which will provide for better and more effective enforcement. This regulation is due to take effect on 1 January 1994 and will significantly strengthen the Commission's powers to ensure that Community rules are properly implemented in all member states.

To be effective the CFP must include measures to prevent over-exploitation. Without such measures fish stocks would decline, which would be in no-one's long-term interest. Inevitably controls on fishing are unwelcome to fishermen. I understand that and will continue to defend United Kingdom interests in negotiations on the CFP while recognising the need for an effective CFP which is equitably applied and enforced in all Member States. I do not support calls for the United Kingdom to take unilateral action or withdraw from the CFP.