§ Mr. Martyn Jones
To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will make a statement on the decline in cod stocks in the North sea; and by what percentage total stocks have declined over the last 12 years. 
§ Mr. Baldry
The advisory committee on fishery management of the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea has estimated that the spawning stock biomass of North sea cod declined by 16 per cent. over the period 1985 to 1996 inclusive. The total allowable catch set for 1997 by the Fisheries Council in December 1996 reflected concern about the pressure on this important stock and provides for the spawning stock biomass to increase by 38 per cent. over the period 1996 to 1998.