§ Mr. Ieuan Wyn Jones
To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what are the criteria for lifting the ban imposed on fishing in the designated area affected by the Sea Empress oil spill. 
§ Mr. Richards
The safety of consumers is paramount and the current restrictions will be lifted only when health and fisheries scientists advise that fish from the area are once again safe to eat.
There are no statutory limits on the amount of oil in fish or shellfish which is deemed safe and I am advised that it is not possible to set limits for all the possible constituents of oil. Therefore, in deciding when and where sections of the fishing industry will be allowed to operate again in the restricted area, our considerations will be on the basis of data on normal background concentrations for areas subsequently affected by the spill and such data from elsewhere around the UK. That is, we will consider whether levels are significantly higher than normal background levels.
Fish and shellfish from elsewhere around the coast of Wales and the UK remain safe to eat.