HL Deb 12 October 1994 vol 557 cc115-6WA
Lord Mason of Barnsley

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What action they propose to take in view of the recent recommendation from the Select Committee on the European Communities on the Regulation of Drift Net Fishing (13th Report 1993–94, H.L. Paper 77, paragraph 50) that "… the Government should take seriously the view of the National Rivers Authority, the Salmon and Trout Association and the Atlantic Salmon Trust that on management grounds this fishery [the North-East coast drift net fishery] should be phased out over a shorter timescale than the estimated 30 year period".

Earl Howe

The decision to phase out the North-East drift net fishery was announced by Fisheries Ministers when they presented their report on salmon net fisheries to Parliament in October 1991. The report noted that the review on which it was based did not produce any evidence that the drift net fishery posed an immediate threat to stocks, but concluded that it would aid and improve the management of individual salmon and sea trout stocks if it were to come to an end. However, fisheries Ministers took the view that, in order to avoid hardship, this should be done gradually by reducing the number of drift net licences as those holding them leave the fishery.

It was the National Rivers Authority which estimated that a phase out on this basis would take 30 years to complete. The Government accept that it would be advantageous from a fisheries management point of view if the phase out were to be completed over a shorter timescale. In practice the policy adopted, which was implemented in 1993, has already resulted in a 22 per cent. reduction in licence numbers. Nevertheless, the Government have noted the committee's comments and will continue to keep the position under review.