HL Deb 20 March 1997 vol 579 cc104-5WA
The Earl of Selborne

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What was achieved at the North Sea Conference Intermediate Meeting of environment and fisheries Ministers in Bergen on 13 and 14 March; whether they are satisfied with the outcome; and how the meeting is to be followed up.

Earl Ferrers

The North Sea Fisheries and Environment Ministers and the responsible Members of the European Commission were able to reach political agreement on the principles, objectives and strategies which should guide fisheries and environmental management in the North Sea. Within this framework, they invited the competent authorities to consider a wide range of actions which are set out in the Statement of Conclusions which they adopted. I have arranged for a copy of the statement to be placed in the Library of each House.

The conclusions call for the development of an ecosystem approach to fisheries management and environmental conservation and protection; and recognise that the same principles of sustainable management should apply to industrial fisheries as to human consumption fisheries. The detailed measures put forward include:

—the introduction of new target and limit reference points as a basis for stock management, underpinned by recovery plans for specific stocks;

—measures to protect juvenile fish, notably by minimising discards;

—measures to protect species and habitats, notably by adjusting fishing practices;

—measures to protect North Sea ecosystems, notably to safeguard spawning grounds and nursery areas for fisheries resources;

—measures to improve enforcement, including the extension to Norway of the European Community's new system of satellite monitoring;

—additional research to strengthen the implementation of effective measures; and

—greater involvement of fishermen and other interested parties in management decisions.

The Government believe that the conclusions make a major contribution towards achieving sustainable management of North Sea fisheries. They will be drawn on by the European Commission in developing measures under the Common Fisheries Policy, and will also guide wider environmental policy in the North Sea. The United Kingdom and Germany indicated that they would take steps to review follow-up action within the European Community during their EU Presidencies in 1998 and 1999 respectively.