HC Deb 24 May 1994 vol 244 cc142-3W
Mr. Beith

To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, pursuant to her answer of 12 May,Official Report, columns 201–2, what instructions have been given to inspection officers as to the conditions which must be satisfied for a net to be acceptable in which the square mesh panel is fitted forward of the flapper.

Mr. Jack

The statutory instruments to which I referred in my reply of 12 May at columń201–02 and to which my hon. Friend the Palriamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Scottish Office referred in his reply of 17 May at column 410 set out the requirements for the use of square mesh panels. Inspecting officers are instructed to enforce these SIs as part of their fisheries enforcement work.

Article 4(i)(c) of Statutory Instrument 1992 No. 1344 requires square mesh panels to be sited in the codend, or in any extension piece or immediately in front of any extension piece or, in the absence of any extension piece, immediately in front of the codend. Article 4(i)(f) additionally requires that the panels be placed forward of any flapper or with the front end of the panel to the rear of any flapper by at least three flapper lengths.

In the light of the questions raised by the hon. Member the legislation and related instructions are currently being examined by Fisheries Departments to see whether there is any need for clarification in order to ensure that the objective of the legislation, to facilitate the escape of undersized immature fish, is achieved.

Mr. Morley

To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what actions the Government are taking in response to breaches by the French Government of EU rules on drift-net lengths; and if she will make a statement.

Mr. Jack

It is for the Commission to ensure that member states comply with European Union law and to institute infraction proceedings as necessary.